A new drug with the potential to extend the lives of women suffering from advanced breast cancer has been approved for routine NHS utilisation.
Kadcyla had been rejected by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence due to its expense back in 2016.
This had provoked a strong negative reaction from campaigners at the time.
But NHS England has now come to an agreement with the manufacture of the drug, Roche, which will make it available to around 1,200 women on an annual basis in England.
The drug had previously only been made provided via the Cancer Drugs Fund, due to its £90,000 annual cost.
In clinical trials, Kadcyla extended the lives of women suffering with terminal breast cancer by an average of six months.
It also has a massive impact on the quality of life of patients, while reducing the side-effects that are associated with other treatments.
Details of the arrangement between the manufacturer and NHS England have been kept confidential thus far.
Kadycla is for people with extremely advanced breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and cannot be removed through surgery.
Previous treatments, usually Herceptin, must have failed for patients to receive the drug.
Kadcyla, also called T-DM1, combines Herceptin with a potent chemotherapy agent.
It works by attaching itself to the Her2 receptor on cancer cells, blocking signals that encourage the cancer to grow and spread.
The drug must be applied intravenously on a three-weekly basis.
Commenting on the issue, the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, acknowledged the importance of making this new drug available.
“NHS cancer survival rates are now at record highs, and this year we’re going to be making major upgrades to modern radiotherapy treatments in every part of England. NHS England is also taking practical action to drive greater value from taxpayers’ growing investment in modern drug treatments, and that work is beginning to bear fruit. 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.”
While Richard Erwin, general manager at Roche, was naturally enthusiastic about this new agreement.
“This is a positive example of how solutions can be reached when all parties show flexibility.”
Delyth Morgan, chief executive of the research charity Breast Cancer Now, also welcomed the decision, suggesting that it is long overdue.
“We are absolutely delighted that tough negotiation and flexibility by Nice and NHS England, and the willingness of Roche to compromise on price, have ensured that thousands of women with incurable breast cancer will be given precious time to live. We want to congratulate and thank the hundreds of thousands of women, men and families across the country for their relentless campaigning to ensure this crucial lifeline drug is routinely available to those that need it.”