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U-turn sees life-extending cancer drug approved for NHS use

Monday 19th June 2017
Life-extending breast cancer drug Kadcyla is to be available on the NHS thanks to a new deal between the NHS and pharmaceutical firm Roche. Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz via iStock
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Kadcyla, a breast cancer drug that has been proven to have life-extending benefits, is now available for patients on the NHS in the UK following what is being described as a 'monumental' U-turn.
 
Previously, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) had ruled that the cost of the drug - manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Roche - was too high to be funded by the NHS.
 
However, a deal - the details of which remain confidential - has now been struck between the NHS and Roche, meaning the price of Kadcyla has passed NICE's cost-effectiveness test, so it will now be available to breast cancer patients free of charge on the health service.
 
Initially, it was believed that the drug would cost £166,000 per year per patient. Although it is not yet known how much the price has dropped, it is thought to be down to around £50,000 a year, as this is the average cost of other life-extending treatments on offer to terminally-ill patients via the NHS.
 
Speaking at the NHS Confederation Conference in Liverpool last week, chief executive of the NHS Simon Stevens commented: "Today's announcement on Kadcyla shows that for companies who are willing to work with us, there are concrete gains for them, for the NHS and most importantly for patients able to get new and innovative drugs."
 
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, added: "Today's landmark decision bodes well for patients looking for reassurances that modern cancer treatments can get through to NHS patients more quickly."
 
Kadcyla is a combination therapy comprising two different drugs and is designed for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, which means that their tumours have begun to spread around the rest of their body, making them unsuitable candidates for surgery.
 
Clinical trials involving the drug found that it could play a significant role in extending the lives of these patients without any adverse side effects.
 
Written by James Puckle
 
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