Breast cancer drug approved for NHS England

June 16, 2017

The drug trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla) will soon be routinely available for patients in England with an advanced type of breast cancer.

NHS England has announced that a discounted deal has been agreed with the manufacturer Roche, which has been backed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) who previously judged the drug as too expensive.

Professor Arnie Purushotham, Cancer Research UK's senior clinical adviser, said that he was delighted to see the three organisations working together to make it available for patients.

Research has shown that the drug can benefit women with a type of breast cancer called HER2-positive that has spread to other parts of the body, can't be surgically removed and has stopped responding to other treatments.

"NICE recognises that this cancer drug is beneficial for these patients and cost-effective for the NHS, but it is also a kinder ," said Purushotham.

On average Kadcyla gives patients an extra 6 months of life, but importantly it offers improved quality of life and fewer side-effects compared to other treatments.

More than 46,000 women are diagnosed with breast in England each year, with the disease responsible for over 9,000 deaths annually.

It's estimated that over 1,000 women each year with advanced HER2-positive will now have routine access to Kadcyla.

The full price for a course of treatment with the drug is around £90,000 per patient. But the terms of the agreement reached between NHS England and Roche are not being disclosed.

NICE last reviewed Kadcycla in 2015, deeming it too expensive for routine funding, though it has been available via the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) since 2013. When the CDF was redesigned in 2016, all the treatments available through it have been subject to review to see whether they should be funded routinely on the NHS.

Today's announcement means that Kadcyla will be permanently funded in England, removing uncertainty for patients and giving doctors a further treatment option.

The drug was approved for use in Scotland earlier this year. The NHS in Wales and Northern Ireland usually follow NICE decisions.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said that the decision between the NHS and Roche required tough negotiation and flexibility, but he believes it offers a good deal for both patients and taxpayers.

While this will be seen as a positive decision, the way new drugs are made available on the NHS is a widely debated topic.

Patients, clinicians and charities remain concerned about the introduction of a potential £20 million a year cap on drug price by NHS England and NICE, which could cause delay of life extending drugs reaching patients.

Explore further: Disappointment as breast cancer drug not approved on NHS

Related Stories

Disappointment as breast cancer drug not approved on NHS

August 11, 2014
The breast cancer drug trastuzumab emtansine (also known as Kadcyla) will not be made routinely available on the NHS following a failure to reach an agreement on price between the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ...

New immunotherapy drug for advanced melanoma

September 9, 2015
A new immunotherapy drug has been approved for NHS patients in England whose melanoma has stopped responding to previous treatments.

New chemotherapy approach offers breast cancer patients a better quality of life

June 6, 2017
The chemotherapy drug capecitabine gives patients a better quality of life and is as effective at preventing breast cancer from returning as the alternative regimen called CMF, when given following epirubicin. These are the ...

Roche breast cancer drug 'helps patients live longer': study

September 29, 2014
A drug developed by Swiss giant Roche to treat an aggressive form of breast cancer has been shown to extend patients' lives by almost 16 months, researchers said Sunday.

US approves new targeted breast cancer drug (Update)

February 22, 2013
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a first-of-a-kind breast cancer medication that targets tumor cells while sparing healthy ones.

Shorter herceptin breast cancer treatment may produce better results

March 1, 2017
Breast cancer patients who receive the drug Herceptin for nine weeks as part of their post-surgery chemotherapy regime may enjoy better health outcomes, according to new research led by UCL, compared to those who receive ...

Recommended for you

Study shows how nerves drive prostate cancer

October 19, 2017
In a study in today's issue of Science, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore Medicine, report that certain nerves sustain prostate cancer growth by triggering a switch that causes tumor vessels ...

Gene circuit switches on inside cancer cells, triggers immune attack

October 19, 2017
Researchers at MIT have developed a synthetic gene circuit that triggers the body's immune system to attack cancers when it detects signs of the disease.

One to 10 mutations are needed to drive cancer, scientists find

October 19, 2017
For the first time, scientists have provided unbiased estimates of the number of mutations needed for cancers to develop, in a study of more than 7,500 tumours across 29 cancer types. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger ...

Suicide molecules kill any cancer cell

October 19, 2017
Small RNA molecules originally developed as a tool to study gene function trigger a mechanism hidden in every cell that forces the cell to commit suicide, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study, the first to identify molecules ...

Researchers target undruggable cancers

October 19, 2017
A new approach to targeting key cancer-linked proteins, thought to be 'undruggable," has been discovered through an alliance between industry and academia.

Fundamental research enhances understanding of major cancer gene

October 19, 2017
New research represents a promising step towards better understanding of a key cancer gene. A long-running collaboration between researchers at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge and the AstraZeneca IMED Biotech Unit reveals ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.