A HOSPITAL consultant has criticized the drug watchdog for blocking routine NHS access to a new breast cancer drug successfully trialled in the North-East.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has been assessing Kadcyla as a treatment option for people with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer.
Despite the drug extending the lives of patients and reducing severe side effects NICE has concluded that a treatment that can cost more than £90,000 per patient is not effective enough to justify the price the NHS is being asked to pay. It has has issued draft guidance that it should not be routinely available on the NHS.
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But Dr Mark Verrill, a consultant oncologist at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, said it would be “a travesty” if he and his colleagues could not offer the new drug to future patients.
Unless NICE overturns its decision, Kadcyla will become the eighth consecutive treatment for advanced breast cancer to be rejected by NICE since 2011.
Dr Verrill said: “Patients in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care took part in the clinical trial that led to drug approval and it would be a travesty if we were not able to offer the same treatment to future North-East patients.
"For the moment there is access to Kadcyla via the National Cancer Drugs Fund, but there is no commitment to continue this initiative beyond 2016.”
Kadcyla works in a different way to any other breast cancer medicine, searching out the cancerous cells and delivering potent chemotherapy directly, destroying the cell from within.
Jayson Dellas, general manager of Roche Products Limited, said: “Roche is extremely disappointed that NICE has failed to safeguard the interests of patients with this advanced stage of aggressive disease.”
Emma Pennery, clinical director at Breast Cancer Care said: “It’s extremely disappointing news for those living with advanced breast cancer and their families that yet another treatment has not been recommended by NICE.
"Kadcyla can mean those facing limited treatment options live longer and with fewer severe side effects, such as being sick, vastly improving their quality of life.”
Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s senior policy manager, Dr Caitlin Palframan, said: “The drug appraisal process in England, and the cost of drugs, must change if prospects for patients are going to improve.
"This is the third highly-effective breast cancer drug to be rejected by NICE on the basis of cost in the last year.”