NHS Approves Breakthrough Breast Cancer Drug for Use in England

England’s National Health Service has just approved a new drug for the treatment of breast cancer. While the drug is most effective in specific cases, advocacy group Breast Cancer Now refers to the results of treatment as “extraordinary.” Keep reading to learn more about the potential of this new drug, or follow the original story here.

The life changing drug known as Perjeta or pertuzumab has been approved by England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice). Before this, access to the drug was limited through the Cancer Drug’s Fund. The drug is specifically recommended for women with a form of cancer categorized as HER2-positive breast cancer.

According to drug manufacturer Roche, the decision by Nice lays to rest years of uncertainty over long term funding for the drug. General manager Richard Erwin says the Nice approval of Perjeta marks tge second breast cancer treatment to gain routine NHS funding in the last year. “These are positive examples of how solutions can be reached when all parties show flexibility,” he continues.

Erwin expresses a desire to continue working collaboratively in the future. In regards to the development of treatments, he believes patients ought not to be kept in any kind of limbo.

Results of trials surround the new drug have shown promising positive outcomes. When Perjeta is administered alongside Herceptin and docetaxel patients with metastatic breast cancer are likely to survive an additional 16 months.

Patients treated with only Herceptin and docetaxel had an average survival of 40.8 months. The addition of Perjeta expands it to 56.5 months.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, says “this is the best news patients with HER2-positive breast cancer and their doctors could have hoped for.” She describes Perjeta as a life-changing drug. A game changer in the fight against metastatic breast cancer. Further describing the advance, the baroness comments that its “benefits are extraordinary, offering women with incurable metastatic breast cancer over four-and-a-half years to live – nearly 16 precious extra months with their loved ones compared to existing treatments.”

Experts and advocates acknowledge that this breakthrough was a lengthy process. It required flexibility, toughness, and a number of negotiations by all parties involved. This collaboration, however, represents a historic moment. Drug treatments are often even slower to be approved. This pattern will hopefully repeat itself, and continue a trend of critically useful treatments becoming available at more reasonable paces.

Nearly 53,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK. Roughly a quarter of all cases involve HER2-positive disease. With these patients in mind, treatment development and access must be a priority as well as a necessity.


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