Breast cancer drug turned down for NHS deemed too expensiveCurrent affairsNewsScience & Technology
A breast cancer drug that can prolong life by nearly six months has been deemed too expensive and turned down for the NHS.
The drug, called Kadcyla (generic name trastuzumab emtansine), costs approximately £90,000 per patient but offers to extend life by almost six months.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which sets the guidelines for England and Wales, believes that the drug is not effective enough to support the large sum.
The watchdog is consulting the manufacturer Roche to reduce its’ costs and give NHS patients free access to it.
NICE justified the decision, telling the Guardian “the reality is that given its price and what it offers to patients, it will displace more health benefits, which the NHS could achieve in other ways, than it will offer to patients with breast cancer.”
The decision has been heavily criticised by both breast cancer charities and Roche.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, chief executive of NICE Sir Andrew Dillon said: “Roche would act in the best interest of patients and use the consultation period to look again at their evidence and consider if there was more they could do.”
The drug is available in England via the government’s Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF). But the scheme will soon end in 2016 and patients in England will no longer be able to get Kadcyla through the NHS.
Although, Kadcyla isn’t a cure, it prolongs life by a median of 5.8 months. The drug combines Herceptin (trastuzamab) with a chemotherapy agent and is a new medicine for those with HER 2-positive secondary breast cancer and has fewer side effects than other drugs.
Studies show that Kadcyla has a survival rate of 30.9 months compared with 25.1 months for patients on lapatinib and capecitabine.
Professor Paul Ellis, a consultant oncologist at King’s College London, who worked on the drug trials said: “Kadcyla represents a significant advance in HER 2-positive breast cancer, so for NICE to issue negative preliminary guidance is a huge blow.”
Back in 2010, NICE rejected another breast cancer drug Lapatinib, also known as Tyverb, on the basis of costs, which is now widely used and highly successful with cancer patients.