NICE rejects use of prostate cancer drug, Olaparib (Lynparza)

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued draft guidance (January 5, 2022) rejecting the use of Olaparib on the NHS for patients with advanced prostate cancer.

Olaparib, which has been shown to be effective in patients with advanced prostate cancer who have specific genetic changes in their cancer cells, significantly delays progression. Data submitted to NICE by the company (AstraZeneca) shows that patients with metastatic prostate cancer that had become resistant to androgen deprivation who received Olaparib, lived without the cancer getting any bigger for an average of 7.4 months, in comparison to 3.6 months for those taking existing treatments (abiraterone or enzalutamide).

The NICE decision is particularly controversial because the drug was approved for use by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) in October 2021. In Scotland, patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and BRCA1/2 mutations who have progressed following prior hormonal therapy are now able to access the treatment. The Scottish decision takes in to account a confidential discount offered by the company to the NHS. In addition, the SMC applied a more flexible approach in its assessment that takes into consideration the small numbers of patients who would be eligible for treatment.

The negative guidance would not affect patients already receiving treatment, who would continue to be able to do so, until they and their NHS clinician considered it appropriate to stop.

“That Olaparib has not been recommended by NICE is deeply disappointing.This is a treatment proven to work well for patients with advanced prostate cancer who have specific genetic changes in their cancer cells. It offers the possibility not only of longer life but also to maintain or improve quality of life. With approval in place for patients to access this medicine in Scotland, NICE’s decision will create a post-code lottery. We are hopeful that NICE and the company will be able to find a solution that will enable this innovative treatment to reach all patients who need it.”

Oliver Kemp
CEO of Prostate Cancer Research

If you would like to know more or submit any comments to NICE about the draft guidance, please follow this link.

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