Women in London with aggressive forms of breast cancer are to get NHS access to drug Avastin through a special cancer drugs fund set up by the government.
Avastin is a tumour-starving drug that works by preventing blood vessels reaching the tumour. Although the drug is licensed for use in the UK, at £21,000 per patient it is not readily approved by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence).
Instead, decisions about whether to fund drugs from the Cancer Drugs Fund are made by cancer specialists, meaning that patients in certain postcodes will miss out.
Up to 4,000 women are diagnosed every year with breast cancer in London. Up to half go on to develop the advanced form.
Until now, women in London have been forced to pay privately for Avastin or to claim on their private medical insurance policy because of cost concerns from NICE.
But last week it was announced that women in London who develop breast cancer which is known as ‘triple negative’, or those who have received a taxane when their disease was in an early stage, can now have access to Avastin on the NHS through a special cancer drugs fund.
Trials have shown that Avastin can give between five and 10 extra months of life. Women affected by ‘triple negative’ breast cancer have very few treatment options available to them; their cancer doesn’t respond to hormone therapies or HER2-blockers such as Herceptin.
NHS London has also approved Avastin for patients with colon and advanced ovarian cancers. It is hoped that NHS trusts across the country will soon be able to prescribe Avastin as well, so people in other areas do not miss out on the drug because of where they live.
Professor Paul Ellis, Professor of Cancer Medicine at King’s College London, said: “Avastin is one of the few treatments available for these women that give them valuable extra time to live their lives without their disease worsening so the announcement that it will now be funded for NHS patients in London is excellent news.
“It gives patients and clinicians further choice in a disease where there is a particular need for more treatment options.”
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012