1. ITV Report

Breast cancer drug rejected, despite saving patients

Jenny McCabe has now been clear of cancer for 5 years after taking part in the clinical trial for Perjeta Credit: ITV News

The new breast cancer drug Perjeta will not be made available on the NHS, despite being hailed a success when it was trialed at the Royal Cornwall Hospital five years ago.

Jenny McCabe was one of the original guinea pigs treated with Perjeeta at the Royal Cornwall Hospital five years ago.

It's not a matter of extending life a little while. It's extending life a long time. I mean I have been five years, over five years since I had it and I'm still leading a nornal life and I'm working and everything and I'm sure there are lots of women out there doing the same.

– Jenny McCabe
Dr Duncan Wheatley is convinced Perjeta is a breakthrough in breast cancer treatment Credit: ITV News

Studies found that when the drug was used alongside other treatments, the number of women whose tumours were eradicated nearly doubled. But the body responsible for approving medications - NICE - has decided not to fund it.

The Royal Cornwall Hospital's cancer specialist is convinced it's an important breakthrough.

We're very sure it leads to less surgery, less needle surgery, less mastectomies.

We'd be amazed if it didn't lead to a better long term outcome so we'd appeal to use it now and if in the long term it isn't so exciting we can reverse that decision.

– Dr Duncan Wheatley, clinical oncologist

But the drug is costly, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says the results don't justify its widespread use.

Nice says the drug costs from just over £7,000 to nearly £17,000 for a full course of treatment, and it has to be used with the other cancer drug herceptin and a course of chemotherapy.

It says the drug has shown promising results in the short term but in the long term those result have yet to be proven.

There is a three week consultation period before NICE makes a final decision on whether Perjeta goes back on the shelf.