Abiraterone Now Available in Malta to Improve the Lives of Prostate Cancer Patients

June 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

A new drug discovered in the UK and now offered through the National Health Service (NHS) is now offered in Malta. This drug is no other than the now popular Abiraterone. This tablet is administered to patients with advanced or castration-resistant prostate cancer.

It helps to extend the survival rate for these men by more than four months and comes with fewer side effects. In Malta, men diagnosed with this advanced stage of prostate cancer can now take advantage of the use of Abiraterone.

There are so many positives for the men in Malta who qualify for this drug. The following online post highlights them:

A drug pioneered by a Maltese doctor, allowing prostate cancer patients to live longer and enjoy a better quality of life, is now available in Malta.

The oral drug, abiraterone, was discovered by the Institute of Cancer Research UK, led by Birzebbuga-born professor of experimental cancer medicine, Johann de Bono.

It has been proven to drastically decrease pain and improve the personal well-being of prostate cancer patients.

“Prostate cancer is a pretty horrible cancer, a dehumanising disease, and this pill improves the quality of life and survival rate,” said Prof. de Bono, an honorary consultant in medical oncology at The Royal Marsden, a cancer hospital in London.

The drug gives hope to prostate cancer patients at the late stages of the disease when chemotherapy, surgery or other drugs would have failed. It decreases the incidence of death by about a third but, according to Prof. de Bono, it is “not just about extending survival but also about improving the quality of life”.

Officially, abiraterone can extend survival by about five months but some men live considerably longer.

“Averages are hard to quantify,” he said. “I have a patient who had been living on morphine because of the pain but when he started taking abiraterone he came off the morphine and, six and a half years later, he’s still alive and not in pain,” Prof. de Bono said.

Soon, patients will be able to take the drug even prior to chemotherapy. “Our goal is to make chemotherapy a thing of the past,” he said.

In Malta, about 35 people a year are diagnosed with prostate cancer.

It is deemed the most common cancer in men worldwide and the second most common killer among men after lung cancer.

Patients on abiraterone – which only has minimal side effects – would need to take four pills a day. In Malta, it is not yet on the national health service list but can be purchased privately.

There were already three patients on the drug and doing well, Prof. de Bono said.

A price for the local market has not been established yet as it depends on discussions with the authorities.

Abiraterone is also being tested on patients with advanced breast cancer. The indications are that even children with rare inherited diseases will eventually benefit from the drug.

So is this a miracle cure?

“Please don’t hype it up. We all have to die one day,” said Prof. De Bono. “It doesn’t cure but it does improve the quality of life.”

His “primary goal” in life is to accelerate the process of drugs to move from experimental stage to treatment, which, at the moment, takes approximately 10 years.

“This is a time of great change for cancer medicine because genomic technology allows us to decipher exactly what’s driving each cancer,” he said, explaining that precision medicine allowed researchers to develop specific drugs to target the area that is being hijacked by cancer.

“It’s a question of giving the right patient the right treatment at the right time,” he said.

Because these drugs are expensive, the key challenge is funding and the medical world is trying to minimise cost failures and accelerate success. “How are we, as a society, going to afford such drugs, particularly in these stringent times?”

Prof. de Bono describes cancer as a “complicated beast” but his goal is to eventually “find a drug which cures”.

He is now training research medical professionals to take up “the global fight against cancer” and even has a few Maltese doctors under his wing. He left Malta 30 years ago, aged 17, and is saddened by the fact that he does not come to Malta as often as he would like to. “My wife is Scottish. It’s very difficult to persuade her to spend the summer in Malta,” he said.

He spends half his time in the lab and half with patients, which takes its toll on him: “I am ageing very rapidly,” he joked but it is clear that he is driven by passion for his job.

He recounted that only the other day he had received an e-mail from a woman in Australia, whom he had never met. She wanted to thank him because her father had been bedridden with prostate cancer but was now even swimming.

“These true stories keep you going,” he said.


• Trouble passing urine or frequent urge to urinate, especially at night.

• Weak or interrupted urine stream.

• Pain, burning or blood when urinating.

• Painful ejaculation or blood in semen.

• Nagging pain in the back, hips or pelvis. Source.

So, if you are in Malta and are battling with advanced prostate cancer, the use of Abiraterone can be a sought to relieve for you. Although there is no national insurance coverage now, it can still be purchased privately.

If you are to go for this medication, it is important that you report details of your medical history to the doctor. Abiraterone still has side effects and may not be suitable if you suffer from other kinds of medical condition.

Finally, the success rate in the use of Abiraterone in treating prostate cancer has been tremendous in the UK as well as in the US, if you are in Malta, this can be an opportunity to save and improve the quality of your life.

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