A breast cancer drug that has previously been withdrawn in England has been made available via the NHS in Scotland.
This is the second blow for medical prescriptions south of the border, after NHS Scotland agreed to fund PrEP for HIV sufferers.
Kadcyla is used to treat the form of breast cancer known as HER2 positive.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) suggest that making the major available to patients in Scotland will enable them to spend “more time with their families and in some cases return to work”.
Nicolas White, head of Scotland at Breast Cancer Care, was a foremost communicator of this notion.
“Kadcyla can mean an extra six months with loved ones to make countless more precious memories – that time is priceless. These women already live with extreme uncertainty every day, and worries about not being able to access the drugs they need to live longer only add to their anxiety. Knowing that Kadcyla is now on the table offers a real glimmer of hope.”
White believes that the decision is a major breakthrough, but called on campaigners to continue putting pressure on the government.
“We now need to keep up the momentum in approving life-extending drugs for all types of incurable breast cancer. The best possible treatments must be available to all, yet too many are still kept out of reach.”
Scottish health secretary Shona Robison indicated her support for the decision, suggesting that it will benefit approximately 100 women annually in Scotland.
Campaigners note that eighteen countries, including France and Germany, now offer the drug, and called on the English authorities to make it available to patients in the nation.
Patients in England can acquire the treatment through the Cancer Drugs Fund, but it has not been made routinely available by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Nice has already published final draft guidance indicating that Kadcyla is not set at an affordable price.
But a powerful campaign in Scotland has convinced the authorities of the benefits of making the drug available, with over 13,000 people signing a position presented to the SMC and drugs company Roche.
The charity’s director for Scotland, Mary Allison, believes that the decision will have a transformative influence over those suffering from breast cancer in Scotland.
“This decision will transform treatment options for women with HER2 positive secondary breast cancer in Scotland. We are pleased that the SMC and Roche have worked together to unlock this revolutionary drug. We hope this will be just the start of improved access to breast cancer medicines in Scotland.”
Allison also reiterated the commitment of the charity to continue the fight against the debilitating condition of breast cancer.
“Both the Scottish government and Breast Cancer Now share the same vision of making sure that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live. If we are to achieve this, we’ll need to ensure that patients in Scotland are able to access the best possible treatments – and today is a real step forward for women with HER2 positive disease.”
However, the aforementioned White believes that there is still some distance to go in order to fight breast cancer effectively.
“This is just one part of a complex puzzle we must solve to ensure nobody is left receiving the second-rate care so many currently experience.”
Incidence rates for breast cancer are projected to rise by 2% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 210 cases per 100,000 females by 2035.
1 in 8 women and 1 in 870 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.