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Last Updated: Monday, 7 November 2005, 17:22 GMT
Male cancer drug hits cost block
Prostate images
The drug is for sufferers with advanced prostate cancer
Men in Scotland with prostate cancer will not receive a life-prolonging drug on the NHS because it is too expensive.

Doctors who have used the drug say it offers advanced patients more time to lead a fuller, active life.

But the Scottish Medicines Consortium has decided that Taxotere has not proved its cost-effectiveness.

John Neate, of the Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "This decision is very bad news for men in Scotland. I urge the SMC to review its position."

He went on: "The drug is regarded by many doctors as the treatment of choice.

"Taxotere is, as yet, the only drug proven through rigorous trials to offer improved survival and quality of life to men with prostate cancer at this stage of their illness.

It's impossible to put a value on this extra opportunity for life
Dr David Dodds
Cancer specialist

However, the consortium decided not to recommend the chemotherapy treatment to the NHS on the basis that it did not demonstrate value for money.

Health professionals said that a price should not be put on prolonging and improving the lives of sufferers.

Cancer consultant David Dodds, of the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow, said: "Taxotere not only gives advanced prostate cancer patients more time, it also offers them opportunity to live fuller, more active and less painful, lives.

Death toll

"From the perspective of the thousands of men in Scotland with prostate cancer, their families and loved ones, it's impossible to put a value on this extra opportunity for life."

The condition is the UK's most common form of male cancer. It affects one in 15 men in Scotland.

It affects more than 30,000 men each year across the country, killing 10,000 - at least one per hour.

A statement from the SMC said: "The SMC advises NHS boards and area drug and therapeutic committees (ADTCs) that docetaxel in combination with prednisolone is not recommended for use within NHS Scotland for the treatment of patients with metastatic hormone refractory prostate cancer (MHRPC).

Prostate cancer beer mat from campaign
Part of a recent beermat campaign to raise awareness of the disease

"Docetaxel offers improvements in survival, pain control and quality of life as well as a greater reduction in prostate specific antigen levels compared with the current standard chemotherapy regimen.

"However, the cost-effectiveness of docetaxel for MHRPC has not been demonstrated."

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which regulates medicines for use on the NHS in England and Wales, has scheduled its appraisal for 2006.

Mr Neate said the decision could invite legal challenges to NHS decisions on drugs if patients felt that drugs they needed and had been clinically recommended were refused by their primary care trust.

More information

The Scottish Executive urged the manufacturers to submit further information on the drug.

A spokeswoman said: "SMC can only base their opinion on the information submitted by the applicant company.

"We would welcome giving the thousands of men in Scotland with prostate cancer, their families and loved ones such an opportunity but SMC have to have the data from the manufacturer to consider it," she added.

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