NHS U-turn sees breast cancer drug Kadcyla approved for use

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Kadcyla, a new drug which could extend the lives of women with advanced breast cancer, has been approved for routine use on the NHS.

Women with aggressive breast cancer will be granted the use of a life-extending drug called Kadcyla after a ‘monumental’ U-turn by NHS rationing bodies.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) had previously said the drug “does not work well enough to justify its high cost” of £90,000 per patient  – despite, in clinical trials, it has given women with advanced breast cancer up to nine months’ extra life.

The u-turn has been hailed by charities as a “monumental” decision by rationing bodies.

A new deal between NHS England and the pharmaceutical company Roche will make the drug initially available to about 1,200 women per year in England after it was approved for use on the NHS in Scotland earlier this year.

Kadcyla is administered intravenously (IV) once every three weeks. Clinical trials also demonstrated an increase in quality of life for patients compared with other treatments.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “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. In this case, tough negotiation and flexibility between the NHS and Roche means both patients and taxpayers are getting a good deal.”