NHS approval for life-extending breast cancer drug

Breast cancer drug that can extend lives of patients is approved for NHS use

Kadcyla is now being funded through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF). It is licensed to treat HER2-positive breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body, can not be surgically removed and has stopped responding to initial treatment. The drug is administered by an intravenous injection once every three weeks and has been seen to improve the quality of life for patients on it when compared to other treatments. This will mean eligible patients will no longer have to apply for funding and the drug will be paid for in the normal way.

All the drugs funded under the old arrangements are being re-assessed, and as part of this process NICE, Roche, and the NHS England have managed to find arrangements that are acceptable to all parties.

NICE first rejected Kadcyla back in 2014, saying its cost of around £91,000 per patient at full price was too high, and that a small discount was not enough for it to be considered cost effective.

The drug has so far only been available to patients in England under the Cancer Drugs Fund.

A pioneering and life-extending drug repeatedly deemed too expensive will now be offered on the NHS in England.

But the deal between NHS England and manufacturer Roche, backed by Nice, will make the drug available to around 1,200 women per year with advanced aggressive cancer.

Kadcyla is designed for women with so-called HER2 positive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, can not be surgically removed and has stopped responding to initial treatment.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced that the body had struck a deal with Roche, which was endorsed by NICE, at the NHS Confederation's annual conference in Liverpool.

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"NHS England is also taking practical action to drive greater value from taxpayers growing investment in modern drug treatments, and that work is beginning to bear fruit".

Breast cancer researchers and advocates have commended this move citing the fact that it will benefit many women. In less than one month, the petition amassed over 115,000 signatures from across the country. The decision prompted anger over a restrictive drug approval policy in England, particularly when Kadcyla was approved for use in Scotland in April.

"The reality is that the price of Kadcyla is now too high in relation to the benefit it gives for it to be recommended for routine commissioning in the NHS, even taking into account the end-of-life criteria and the patient access scheme", Professor Carole Longson, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said last December.

"This is exceptionally good news for so many breast cancer patients", said the charity's chief executive Baroness Delyth Morgan.

"This outcome also demonstrates vital signs of life for the drug appraisal system in this country".

The company's United Kingdom general manager Richard Erwin welcomed the new deal as a "positive" development on Thursday.

"We expect the numbers of people living cancer which is treatable but can not be cured to grow in the future, so it is really welcome to see Kadcyla become more widely available to patients on the NHS in England", she said.

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