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Breast Cancer Drug Rejected for NHS Use Due to High Costs

Breast Cancer Drug Rejected for NHS Use Due to High Costs

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  • Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer among women in the world.
  • Trastuzumab emtasine drug for breast cancer is rejected for National Health Service (NHS) use in England.
  • The drug costs around £90,000 (INR 75,54,461) per year for each patient.

Breast cancer drug Trastuzumab emtansine has been rejected for use by the National Health Service (NHS) on financial basis making it difficult for patients who are seriously ill with breast cancer.

The drug is found to cost about £90,000 (INR 75,54,461) per year for each patient.


Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer in women and is the second-leading cause of death in women.

About 1 in 8 women develop invasive breast cancer in the United States.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has rejected the Trastuzumab emastine (kadcyla) drug from Roche Pharmaceuticals. The drug was rejected because of the high cost and fewer benefits it offers.

"We know that people with cancer place great importance on drugs that can increase their life expectancy. For that reason we apply as much flexibility as we can when we look at new life-extending treatments." said, Prof Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at Nice.

"But the reality is that the price of trastuzumab emtansine [the generic name for Kadcyla] is currently too high in relation to the benefits it gives for it to be recommended for routine commissioning in the NHS, even taking into account the end-of-life criteria and the patient access scheme."

However, the charity organization Breast cancer Now has recently launched a petition against the rejection of the drug due to a huge setback for treatment of advanced breast cancer.

Trastuzumab emtansine drug can give people an average of nine months life with fewer side effects like diarrhea and sickness.

The Nice has laid a draft guidance which stated that the drug price was too high even after a discount offered by the company. It has also stated to foot the bill for patients who are taking the drug even after 14 months.

It is estimated that around 1200 patients can be benefited by the drug if it was funded by the NHS in England.

Nice hopes that the company would reduce the price of the drug. And Breast cancer campaigns and charities will make its final decision in February.

"This disastrous decision is a huge setback for the treatment of advanced breast cancer. Kadcyla offers significant and precious extra time for women with incurable cancer in great need of hope, and we mustn't let it slip away," said, Delyth Morgan, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Now.

"Nice and Roche's inability to find a compromise is seeing secondary breast cancer patients left abandoned.Responsibility lies on both sides, and such reckless brinkmanship is unfortunately about to rip away one of the best breast cancer drugs in years from patients in desperate need of a lifeline."

The charity also complained that Nice had not compared the drug price of trastuzumab emastine with other alternative treatments.

Lady Morgan, said, "This outcome also speaks volumes about a drug appraisal system that is just not working for metastatic breast cancer patients. This targeted drug is available in many other countries, including France, Germany, Australia and Canada, and it is nowhere near good enough that women in England will be denied such an effective option."

Danni Marzi, Breast Cancer Care, said, that even though there is pressure on the budgets, it is essential that women receive proper drugs for treatment.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice)
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) improves treatment and advice on health and social care.

It provides national guidance and is found to evaluate the drugs used by the National Health Services (NHS) in England.

Trastuzumab Emtansine (Kadcyla)
  • It is a combination of targeted therapy (Trastuzumab) and chemotherapy medicine (emtansine).
  • Trastuzumab emtansine is administered intravenously into the vein.
  • The drug is used to treat Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) positive metastatic breast cancer.
  • The trastuzumab drug mainly acts by allowing the emtansine to reach the cancer cell and kills it.
  • It prolongs the life period of the patient on an average by 9 months.
  1. Breast Cancer - (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-key-statistics)
  2. NICE - (https://www.nice.org.uk/about)
  3. Kadcyla - (http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/druglist/kadcyla)
  4. Trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla) - (http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/treatment/cancer-drugs/trastuzumab-emtansine/trastuzumab-emtansine)

Source: Medindia

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