Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with around 36,000 sufferers diagnosed annually. Whilst early stage prostate cancer can usually be cured, once the disease has spread to other organs treatment can only prolong life and relieve symptoms.
Doctors hope that new drug enzalutamide will help down rate prostate cancer from a killer disease into a chronic illness. Recent Phase III trials of the drug have shown that men taking enzalutamide survived an additional 5 months, often with improved quality of life.
The drug, made by pharmaceutical companies Medivation and Astellas, could be licensed for use by British patients early next year. After being awarded a license, enzalutamide will be available for prescription in the UK, meaning that patients covered for cancer on their private health insurance policy could have immediate access to the revolutionary drug.
Dr Richard Theo, of comparison website http://www.activequote.com explained: “Whilst licensed drugs need to be approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) before becoming available on the NHS, private medical insurance gives patients access to licensed drugs regardless of whether or not they are approved by NICE”.
The latest trial looked at the effect of enzalutamide, developed by British scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital, compared with a placebo on 1,200 men with advanced prostate cancer.
The trials showed that men taking enzalutamide survived for more than 18 months compared with less than 14 months for those on a placebo, and 43% of men on the drug reported an improved quality of life.
Professor Alan Ashworth, chief executive of the ICR, said: “Advanced prostate cancer is extremely difficult to treat, and it’s taken a massive co-ordinated effort to finally bring new drugs into the pipeline... It truly is a golden age for prostate cancer drug discovery and development."
Bupa, Aviva, AXA PPP and Pru Health are just some of the insurers that will cover cancer drugs like enzalutamide once they become licensed for use in the UK. With new treatments being brought to the market all the time, private medical insurance will make sure that you take full advantage of the ‘golden age’ of drug discovery.
Dr Theo adds: “When looking at health insurance quotes online, always check the limits on the policy to make sure you are happy with the level of cancer cover. A good comparison website will always show the full details of every policy to help you make an informed decision.