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Breast cancer drug that can extend lives of patients is approved for NHS use

Kadcyla is given intravenously once every three weeks.

A novel drug that can extend the lives of women with advanced breast cancer has been approved for routine use on the NHS.

Charities and campaigners reacted with huge disappointment when the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) rejected Kadcyla on cost grounds in 2015.

But a deal has now been struck between NHS England and manufacturer Roche, backed by Nice, to make the drug available to around 1,200 women per year in England who could benefit.

Until now, the drug has been funded through the Cancer Drugs Fund.

In clinical trials, Kadcyla, which has a full list price of £90,000 per patient, was shown to extend the lives of people with terminal cancer by an average of six months.

It also dramatically improves quality of life, compared with other treatments, and reduces side-effects.

Kadycla is for those with HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and cannot be removed through surgery.

Women must have also failed on previous treatment, usually Herceptin.

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 chemotherapy element also goes inside the cell and causes it to die from within.

Kadcyla is given intravenously once every three weeks.

NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, 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.”

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