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Breast cancer patients in the UK could be in line to benefit from two new drugs designed to prevent the further development of the disease that have just been given the green light for NHS use.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has granted approval to palbociclib, manufactured by pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, and Novartis' ribociclib, which are marketed under the brand names Ibrance and Kisqali respectively.
NICE has ruled that both drugs could have benefits for patients suffering from certain types of breast cancer, including hormone receptor positive, HER2 negative locally-advanced or secondary breast cancer.
To be taken as oral tablets once a day, the two drugs are designed to slow down the growth of cancer by preventing the growth of two proteins known as CDK4 and CDK6 that are present in cancerous cells.
As a result, the treatments could potentially help to extend the lives of some breast cancer patients by as much as ten months in some cases.
Palbociclib and ribociclib can also help to stop the production of oestrogen, which again can stop cancer from growing and spreading around the body, meaning a patient's need for chemotherapy can be subsequently reduced.
Professor Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, commented: "The committee heard that by postponing disease progression, palbociclib and ribociclib may reduce the number of people who are exposed to the often unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy and delay the need for its use in others.
"We are pleased therefore that the companies have been able to agree reductions to the price of palbociclib and ribociclib to allow them to be made routinely available to people with this type of breast cancer."
Statistics show that around 45,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in England each year and NICE believes around 8,000 of these individuals would be eligible to benefit from either palbociclib or ribociclib.
Written by James Puckle
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