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Breast cancer drug 'is being left on the shelf'

By Ella Pickover

Health officials have been slammed for leaving a cheap breast cancer drug "on the shelf" after experts estimated that 4,000 cases could be prevented every year if women were offered a wider range of preventative medication.

NHS red tape means women at high risk of getting the disease cannot access one drug which can prevent more than 50% of cases, two breast cancer charities have said.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that women deemed to be at moderate or high risk of breast cancer should be offered chemoprevention drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene.

Charity Breast Cancer Campaign said these drugs can reduce their risk of getting the disease by around 35% if taken once a day for five years. But new trial data showed that anastrozole, which costs 7p a day per patient, can prevent as many as 53% of cases over the same time-frame.

Breast Cancer Campaign said that the health system was "not geared" towards introducing old drugs for new purposes.

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