Breast cancer drug rejected

A breast cancer drug has been rejected for use on the NHS. Researchers from Newcastle's Freeman Hospital helped to create Perjeta, described as a huge medical breakthrough.

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Charity's disappointment over breast cancer drug snub

A charity has expressed its "disappointment" over a decision not to provide a life-extending breast cancer drug on the NHS.

Breast Cancer Campaign said it hopes the draft decision from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will be reversed before officials make a final determination on pertuzumab as a treatment for an advanced form of the disease.

Breast Cancer Campaign hopes the NICE decision will be reversed. Credit: Press Assocation

The drug, also known as Perjeta, was widely welcomed when it was first introduced by manufacturers Roche.

The drug targets the HER-2 gene found in 20 percent of breast cancer patients. Trials have found that when used alongside the drug Herceptin and chemotherapy, patients live an average of six months longer without their cancer getting worse, compared with those just on Herceptin and chemotherapy.

At present, patients can access the drug through the Cancer Drugs Fund but it is not routinely available through the health service.

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Breast cancer drug 'benefits remain unclear'

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says it cannot recommend breast cancer drug pertuzumab for widespread use because clinical trial data could not predict how long the drug might extend people's lives for.

NICE has launched a consultation on the use of pertuzumab among breast cancer patients. Credit: Press Association.

The organisation has now launched a consultation to hear the views of charities, patient groups and drug manufacturers.

Nice chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said: "The appraisal committee couldn't be sure of the benefits of pertuzumab.

"The main clinical trial did not reflect current medical practice in the UK and despite the research data suggesting the treatment could help delay the growth and spread of the disease, the evidence was not robust enough to confirm for how long pertuzumab may actually extend people's lives."

  1. National

Charity hopes cancer drug decision will be reversed

Mia Rosenblatt, head of policy and campaigns at Breast Cancer Campaign hopes NICE's decision on pertuzumab can be reversed following the consultation process:

It's disappointing that a drug that has shown real benefit to women with advanced HER-2 positive breast cancer has not received Nice approval.

However this is an interim decision and we hope that appropriate evidence to show its benefit can be provided and an agreement on cost made so that the NHS see this as a cost-effective treatment that could extend lives.

– Mia Rosenblatt, head of policy and campaigns at Breast Cancer Campaign
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