Norway Health Minister’s cancer medicine volte face ineffective / News / The Foreigner

The Foreigner Norway Health Minister’s cancer medicine volte face ineffective. UPDATED: Jonas Gahr Støre makes a U-turn and says yes to a drug initially rejected by the Directorate of Health for being too costly. The Opposition criticises inadequate policy. Ipilimumab and Abiraterone (marketed under the name Zytiga) are one of two new drugs designed to fight melanoma and prostate cancer, respectively. Both medicines cost around NOK 850,000k (roughly USD 144.4k/GBP 94k/EUR 107.6k) per year of use, for which the health service would foot the bill subject to approval on application by patients.

norwaycancerdrugs, cancertreatmentnorway



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Norway Health Minister’s cancer medicine volte face ineffective

Published on Wednesday, 13th March, 2013 at 10:17 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Lyndsey Smith      .
Last Updated on 13th March 2013 at 15:20.

UPDATED: Jonas Gahr Støre makes a U-turn and says yes to a drug initially rejected by the Directorate of Health for being too costly. The Opposition criticises inadequate policy.



Ipilimumab and Abiraterone (marketed under the name Zytiga) are one of two new drugs designed to fight melanoma and prostate cancer, respectively.

Both medicines cost around NOK 850,000k (roughly USD 144.4k/GBP 94k/EUR 107.6k) per year of use, for which the health service would foot the bill subject to approval on application by patients.

Abiraterone, which the state might pay for under the same process, was not included in the Minister’s decision.

“We’re initiating a research study to look at the effect of this [Ipilimumab] medicine. This ensures that patients can be treated with the drug against melanoma” Minister Støre said in a statement.

The Directorate of Health, who as late as last week said no to Ipilimumbab (again), has been asked to look at its benefits for all types of melanoma in the study, with an initial five-year period.

Medical officials have expressed uncertainty about the medicine’s effect, and stated some prolonged life-span in these cancer patients varies between nil and three years.

“One of the challenges with this drug is that we know too little about which patients it has an effect on. We need more knowledge. A research study will give us this,” added the Health Minister.

Rightist Opposition Parties Progress (FrP) and the Conservatives (H) have said they would suggest the use of both medications.

“Norway can’t always be the last one to introduce medicines for cancer treatment and other areas,” Conservative MP Bent Høie, leader of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Care Services, tells The Foreigner.

“Most countries we compare ourselves with have introduced Ipilimumab, and we can’t see any reason why Norway shouldn’t test it out on its patients too.” He adds that the indicators point towards even better results than now.

The Conservatives also want the government to introduce a similar refund scheme when it comes to prostate cancer medicine Abiraterone, explains Mr Høie, calling for a new whitepaper mainly focused on medicines policy regarding hospital use.

The present policy mainly applies to medicines people use at home, according to him.

“Patients are currently entitled to a refund, but it’s mostly those with high education and wealthy who are able to fight for this with the help of their GP. Some 400 get the medicine today, about 100 don’t.”

“We cannot afford to have a wait and see policy in this country when it comes to medicines,” Bent Høie concludes.

Facts

The Foreigner asked Norway’s Medicines Agency (NMA) for some details about Ipilimumab and Abiraterone.

What are their benefits and side effects?

“In a randomized, controlled trial (CT-020) with 676 patients, Ipilimumab showed an increased survival of barely 4 months compared with the cancer vaccine gp100,” they answer in an email.

“After two years 22-24% of patients who received Ipilimumab were still alive compared to 14% of patients treated with gp100. Ipilimumab may cause side effects that can be serious or fatal. Skin and the digestive system are most likely to be affected.

Medical personnel say that “Abiraterone offers an alternative, orally administered hormonal treatment option to intravenous chemotherapy regimes and is better tolerated with a different safety profile. In clinical studies, Abiraterone has shown 4 months increased survival. The adverse events may include; hypertension, hypokalaemia, fluid retention or oedema, cardiac disorders, and hepatotoxicity.”

At what point is Ipilimumabnormally prescribed?

Ipilimumab is approved for the treatment of advanced (inoperable or metastatic) melanoma in adults who have previously been treated.”

And Abiraterone?

Zytiga (Abiraterone) is indicated with prednisone or prednisolone for the treatment of metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer in adult men who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic after failure of androgen deprivation therapy in whom chemotherapy is not yet clinically indicated.”

NMA personnel say how widely both drugs are used in Europe and the US, for example, is not known.



Published on Wednesday, 13th March, 2013 at 10:17 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Lyndsey Smith      .
Last updated on 13th March 2013 at 15:20.

This post has the following tags: norwaycancerdrugs, cancertreatmentnorway.





  
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