Cancer drugs: Covid-friendly treatment extended until summer

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More than 30 drugs were made available during the pandemic to cut hospital visits and reduce the impact on patients’ immune systems. Around 8,000 patients have benefited from treatment “swaps” since April. Examples include the drug trametinib for ovarian cancer, which can be given as a tablet alternative to chemotherapy.

Professor Peter Johnson, NHS clinical director for cancer, said extending use of Covid-friendly treatments would help more patients access NHS care at home.

He said: “Cancer has been a priority throughout the pandemic which is why NHS staff have fast-tracked patient access to more convenient and kinder treatments to provide as many people as possible with safe and effective care.”

Access to the drugs has been extended until the summer, with the potential to extend until the end of March next year and then beyond, depending on financial reviews.

The extension is part of a £160million initiative last year to bring forward alternative treatments.

Heather Blake, director of support and influencing at Prostate Cancer UK, praised the decision to make the drug enzalutamide available.

She said: “We’re delighted that NHS England took this landmark decision early in the pandemic, meaning that men who are newly diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer won’t miss out on valuable additional months of life.”

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