Men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) in Québec, Canada now have access to Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) prior to having chemotherapy.

Effective February 3, 2014, the province has added ZYTIGA to the public drug formulary for the treatment of mCRPC in men who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic after failure of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).

In July 2011, ZYTIGA was approved by Health Canada for the treatment of men with mCRPC who had received prior chemotherapy containing docetaxel after failure of ADT. Health Canada approved a second indication for ZYTIGA in May 2013 for the treatment of men with mCRPC who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic after failure of ADT.

Québec joins British Columbia as the second province to add ZYTIGA to its public formulary for men with mCRPC who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic after failure of ADT.

On the European front men with metastatic prostate cancer can now get radium-223 as it has now been approved by NHS England.

In April 2013 NHS took responsibility for cancer drugs and on February 2014,following a review of data by the chemotherapy clinical reference group, radium-233 (Xofigo) was added to their approved list.

In a statement, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Better access to effective medicine is a priority for the Government, and we are delighted that these new drugs will mean more patients will join over 38,000 cancer sufferers who have already benefited from the fund.”

Prostate cancer drugs become increasingly available for men all over the world, but not at a rate that still sees many more men than necessary continue to suffer and die when there are proven drugs and treatments languish waiting for redundant reviews.

Perhaps our remarkable politicians and government administrators could go back to the thinking well and fix the system. Perhaps they should consider an interim automatic approvals for a drug once they have been approved somewhere else by one of their large and respected counterparts in the world. They could still perform their own review and come to their own conclusion, but while we wait these vital treatments will be available to their own citizens. This is a simple and safe approval system that should not threaten each county’s independence and speed the delivery of drugs to those in significant need.

Joel T. Nowak, M.A.S., M.A.