The NHS is set to reject the use of the pioneering new breast cancer drug trastuzumab emtansine because the £90,000 cost is unjustifiable.
The cost of Kadcyla is deemed too much
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) sets the guidelines for England and Wales and has deemed the cost too high to justify its use on the NHS.
Campaigners are urging the pharmaceutical giant Roche to lower the cost of their drug but Roche say the price is appropriate for the amount of work in researching the drug.
The drug can add months of life to women dying of breast cancer and is currently available in England via the government’s Cancer Drugs Fund.
The Cancer Drug Fund is due to terminate in 2016 and NHS patients may no longer be able to have access to trastuzumab emtansine.
It is estimated that up to 20% of all breast cancer patients could benefit from trastuzumab emtansine treatment. The drug has been designed for women with HER2-receptor-positive cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
The drug works by identifying and destroying cancerous cells by attacking them from within. By using this method it is unlikely to produce side effects linked to other forms of chemotherapy such as hair loss.
Trials of trastuzumab emtansine in women showed that participants who took the drug extended their lives by six months. The drug has been marketed under the brand name Kadcyla.
Consultant ooncologist, Professor Paul Ellis, at King’s College London has been administering his patients with the new drug.
He said: “Kadcyla represents a significant advance in HER2-positive breast cancer, so for NICE to issue negative preliminary guidance is a huge blow."
Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said: "We had hoped that Roche would have recognised the challenge the NHS faces in managing the adoption of expensive new treatments by reducing the cost of Kadcyla to the NHS.
"We hope the manufacturer will act in the best interests of patients and use this consultation period to look again at their evidence and consider if there is more they can do."
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