Access to abiraterone in Scotland

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) decided in March 2012 that the NHS should not pay for men in Scotland to have abiraterone.

However, abiraterone's manufacturer has resubmitted its application to the SMC with the offer of a reduced price to the NHS. The SMC's new decision is expected in August 2012.

The Charity believes that the SMC should follow the lead set by NICE in England and Wales and make abiraterone available to men in Scotland on the NHS.


What is abiraterone?

Abiraterone is a new type of hormone therapy for men with advanced prostate cancer that has stopped responding to other hormone therapy and chemotherapy treatments.

At the moment, abiraterone can be prescribed to men with advanced prostate cancer, but the NHS does not have to pay for it.


Why have the SMC made this decision?

The SMC recognise that abiraterone can effectively extend the life of men in the final stages of prostate cancer.

However, the SMC have decided that the cost of abiraterone was too high for the drug to offer value for money. Unless the SMC changes its mind in August abiraterone will not be routinely available on the NHS in Scotland to men with advanced prostate cancer.

Read the SMC decision


Our position on abiraterone

The SMC's decision is a bitter blow to thousands of Scottish men with advanced prostate cancer and their families - and must be overturned.

Studies on abiraterone show that it can prolong the life of men in the final stages of prostate cancer by an average of about 4 months,[1] and improve the quality of their lives. The drug is one of the biggest breakthroughs in the treatment of the disease for many years. It offers men the possibility of extending their lives at a time when there are no other available treatment options, except those that just control the symptoms of the disease.

The SMC's decision means that the costs of abiraterone are not automatically covered by the NHS for men with advanced prostate cancer in Scotland. This leaves these men facing a postcode lottery when trying to access this important new medicine. This is unacceptable.

[1] Abiraterone and Increased Survival in Metastatic Prostate Cancer. Johann S. De Bono, et.al The New England Journal of Medicine Vol 364 No 21 May 2011.


What are we doing to change the SMC's decision?

In response to the SMC's latest consultation on abiraterone, we will be calling on them to follow the lead set by NICE in England and Wales and make the drug available to men on the NHS in Scotland.


Write to your MSP

If you live in Scotland, you can help our campaign to make abiraterone available on the NHS in Scotland by emailing your MSP now. The more letters they get, the more likely they are to take action.


Having trouble getting abiraterone?

We would like to hear from you if your doctor thinks you should have abiraterone but you are unable to get it paid for by the NHS. Email your story to the Policy and Campaigns team at campaigns@prostate-cancer.org.uk or call 020 8222 7622.