Thousands of NHS breast cancer patients eligible for new drug combination
Charity Breast Cancer Now said the treatment could give recipients ‘precious extra months’ and delay the need for chemotherapy.
Thousands of breast cancer patients could benefit from a new drug combination on the NHS, health officials have said.
The use of the medication -abemaciclib and fulvestrant – has been shown to slow disease progression and delay the need for chemotherapy.
New draft guidance recommends that the treatment is made available within the Cancer Drugs Fund for some women in England with an advanced form of the disease.
It could be an option for up to 4,800 women who have already had endocrine treatment for hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said.
Evidence from trials suggests the drug combination extends the time before a patient’s disease progresses by an average of 7.1 months compared to using fulvestrant alone, charity Breast Cancer Now said.
A treatment which could postpone or avoid the need for chemotherapy is important because chemotherapy has the potential to substantially reduce quality of life Meindert Boysen, Nice
Overall survival data from the trial is not yet available, but the Cancer Drugs Fund offers a means of access for NHS patients while further research is carried out.
Meindert Boysen, director of the centre for health technology assessment at Nice, said: “The committee heard from patients that a treatment which could postpone or avoid the need for chemotherapy is important because chemotherapy has the potential to substantially reduce quality of life.
“They also highlighted the importance of people remaining in better health longer, without the disease progressing.
“Today’s recommendation is another example of Nice and NHS England collaborating effectively to give people faster access to promising cancer treatments through the Cancer Drugs Fund.”
Abemaciclib, also known as Verzenio, is part of a class of drugs called CDK4/6 inhibitors, which works by blocking proteins in cancer cells, allowing them to divide and grow.
This combination could also help delay the need for chemotherapy and the difficult side effects that come with it Baroness Delyth Morgan, Breast Cancer Now
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said this type of drug has previously only been available to patients with an earlier form of the disease.
“Abemaciclib is part of a new generation of medicines that can slow the spread of incurable breast cancer, and it’s really exciting that even more women will be now be able to benefit from it,” she said.
“This new combination can offer patients precious extra months before their disease progresses – time to live well that will be so important to them and their loved ones.
“Being progression-free for longer and able to continue with normal activities such as working is highly-valued by patients, and this combination could also help delay the need for chemotherapy and the difficult side effects that come with it.”
The guidance will be reviewed when the final results of the study are available, which is expected to be in February 2020.