Celgene’s Abraxane Recommended for NHS Wales

The Welsh government has recommended Celgene’s Abraxane to treat pancreatic cancer on the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales.

Specifically, Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) has been approved by the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group as an option for use in combination with gemcitabine for the first-line treatment of adult patients with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.

Mark Drakeford, Health and Social Services Minister, commented that he is “proud that in Wales we have a system in place where patients get access to proven and effective treatments for cancer and other life-threatening conditions.”

The recommendation was well received by Pancreatic Cancer UK. The organisation’s chief executive, Alex Ford, noted that while patients will need to meet certain medical eligibility criteria, the recommendation means that more will get access to life-extending drugs.

Ms Ford added that they “now want to see Scotland, Northern Ireland and England follow suit so that many more patients and their loved ones will also be able to benefit from this treatment.”

NICE Preliminary Rejection

The recommendation comes after the rejection by NICE for use on the NHS earlier this month.

NICE rejected the drug after claiming that clinical data provided by Celgene showed that the chemo regimen FOLFIRINOX, a first-line option for patients with the disease, was more clinically effective than the Abraxane/gemcitabine combo.

NICE also claimed that the most plausible cost per QALY (Quality Adjusted Life Year) for Abraxane/gemcitabine compared with gemcitabine alone was £78,500 per QALY gained, which is a lot higher than the amount considered cost-effective for the NHS.

Responding to the decision by Wales to recommend Abraxane, Celgene UK commented that the announcement is a “step forward in a disease area with limited treatment options and such a poor prognosis.”

However, if NICE’s negative preliminary recommendation is maintained, it would mean that the AWMSG decision would be reversed, meaning patients in Wales would not be able to access the drug.


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