Lifeline for pancreatic cancer patients, as NICE backs Nab-paclitaxel

Lustgarten Foundation and SU2C partner on pancreatic cancer
Credit: Orawan Pattarawimonchai

Patients living with pancreatic cancer in England will now have routine access to a life-extending drug on the NHS following a new deal.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended nab-paclitaxel for routine NHS use after the company agreed a confidential price discount and provided more evidence on its effectiveness.

Nab-paclitaxel – made by Celgene and also known as Abraxane – will be routinely available as an option for patients with pancreatic cancer that has progressed.

When Abraxane is added to a standard chemotherapy, the evidence has found it extends life by an average of 2.4 months.

If other combination chemotherapy treatments are unsuitable for a patient, NICE recommends offering Abraxane instead of this standard chemotherapy on its own.

It works by blocking the action of the proteins within cancer cells that cause them to grow and divide.

NICE has reviewed its guidance from 2015 which did not recommend Abraxane for routine NHS use for not being cost-effective.

There are almost 10,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer each year in the UK, and less than 1% survive for 10 or more years.

NICE said this is a final appraisal determination for Abraxane.