Pharmaceutical manufacturers called Roche have introduced a new breast cancer drug which will help to extend the lives of women affected by breast cancer. It was proven in trials to prolong women’s lives by almost six months.
However, it has been reported in the news that the NHS rejected the medicine because it is too expensive to routinely prescribe it to women who need it.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is an organisation that sets guidelines for England and Wales. NICE consider the drug trastuzumab emtansine (which is sold under the brand name Kadcyla) to cost £90,000 per patient. They say it is too expensive for the extra time the drug provides, even if it allows women to spend extra quality and valuable time with their families and friends. NICE feel that the drug does not work well to justify the high price.
Roche argues the drug is priced highly because it has taken years to develop.
The treatment is currently available across England, paid for through the Cancer Drugs Fund. However, this NHS programme will end in 2016, therefore it will affect women living with breast cancer.
There are different types of breast cancer, and this drug doesn’t help all of them. It only benefits women who have HER2-receptor-positive cancer which has spread around the body. The treatment works by finding and destroying cancerous cells, attacking them from inside the body. Unlike other treatments such as chemotherapy, it’s unlikely to cause side effects, for example hair loss.
NICE’s chief executive, Sir Andrew Dillon said they hoped Roche would reduce the cost of the drug to help manage budgets for expensive new treatments.
Roche products’s general manager, Jayson Dallas, said Roche is very disappointed that NICE hasn’t protected the interests of patients with an advanced stage of breast cancer.
What is your opinion? Have you had breast cancer? Have you been receiving Kadcyla treatment?