By Sabrina Barr
‘This is a watershed moment’
A “life-changing” breast cancer drug will become available on the NHS after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved it for routine use following a five-year assessment.
Perjeta, otherwise known as pertuzumab, was previously only accessible through the Cancer Drugs Fund.
However, now women who are suffering from HER2 positive breast cancer that has returned and is either inoperable or has spread around the body will be recommended treatment with the drug in combination with other medication.
This announcement is incredibly significant, as treating breast cancer sufferers with Perjeta can prolong their lives by as much as 16 months.
“Perjeta is a truly life-changing drug and we are absolutely delighted and relieved that NICE has finally been able to recommend it for routine NHS use in England,” said Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now.
“Perjeta’s benefits are extraordinary, offering women with incurable metastatic breast cancer over four-and-a-half years to live – nearly 16 precious months with their loved ones compared to existing treatments.”
“While a long time coming, we’re thrilled that tough negotiation and flexibility by NHS England and NICE, and the willingness of Roche to put patients first and compromise on price, has again ensured thousands of women can be given more time to live.”
Samia al Qadi, chief executive of Breast Cancer Care, expressed her happiness in regard to the positive news.
“This is a watershed moment,” she said. “After over five years of unbearable uncertainty, access to a pioneering combination of treatments for people living with incurable secondary breast cancer has finally been guaranteed on the NHS.
“This innovative treatment offers women and men with incurable breast cancer the precious chance of around an extra year to live their lives with their loved ones and be there for the moments that matter.
“So it is frustrating that women in Scotland are now at an unfair disadvantage since the drug was rejected seven months ago.”
When carrying out trials of the Perjeta drug, Swiss healthcare company Roche found that patients with metastatic breast cancer who take a combination of Perjeta, Herceptin and docetaxel are more likely to live for an additional duration of around 16 months.
In 2015, 55,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in the UK.
According to Breast Cancer Care, around 15-20 per cent of invasive breast cancers can be classified as HER2 positive.