Pioneering Breast Cancer Drug To Be Rolled Out On NHS In England

It has been confirmed that a life-extending breast cancer drug will be rolled out for free on the NHS – after it was previously thought to be too expensive to give to patients.

Kadcyla, which costs £90,000 per patient, treats women with HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and cannot be removed through surgery alone. Clinical trial suggest that it can add six months of life on average to patients with terminal cancer.

The drug was originally trialled in Scotland in April, but was deemed too much of an expense to be given out for free on the NHS in England. It will now be availabe for cancer patients due to a deal between the public health service and the private drug company who makes the drug, Roche. Campaigners have called the decision ‘exceptionally good news’ for breast cancer patients. 

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said of the deal, “Tough negotiation and flexibility between the NHS and Roche means both patients and taxpayers are getting a good deal.”

In order for the drug to be allowed into the NHS, it first had to past a strict cost-effectiveness test, assigning a cost to every “quality adjusted life year”. It’s thought that a discount of around £40,000 was offered in order to get the drug into the health service.

Richard Erwin, general manager at Roche, said: “Close collaboration between Roche, NHS England and NICE has resulted in NICE recommending Kadcyla as a cost-effective treatment.

“This is a positive example of how solutions can be reached when all parties show flexibility.”

But while Kadcyla will now be available in Scotland and England, Wales and Northern Ireland have still not reached a deal. The Welsh government are soon expecting to make a deal with Roche, which will most likely have a knock-on effect in NI – meaning all of the United Kingdom could soon have access. 

Baroness Delyth Morgan, the chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, told the BBC, “This is exceptionally good news… we are absolutely delighted.”

She added: “Today’s landmark decision bodes well for patients looking for reassurances that modern cancer treatments can get through to NHS patients more quickly and can bring transformational improvements in patient outcomes for the future.”