Two breast cancer drugs available on the NHS in England after a U-turn

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Thousands of breast cancer patients in England will benefit from two new drugs available on the NHS following a U-turn by the health watchdog.

Some 3,500 women a year will benefit from the life-prolonging drugs Alpelisib and Trodelvy, which have now been given the green light despite being rejected earlier this year by the National Institute for Excellence in Health and Care (Nice).

Alpelisib, made by Novartis, is used in combination with the hormone therapy Fulvestrant, to target the gene that causes fast-growing tumors. The drug, also known as Piqray, when used with Fulvestrant works by blocking the gene’s ability to help cancer cells survive and grow.

One study showed that half of the people who received the combination of treatments after the previous therapies were able to stop their cancer from growing for six months.

People with a mutation in a specific gene called PIK3CA will be eligible for treatment if they have explored other treatment options, with an estimated benefit of 3,000 each year.

John Stewart, national director of specialist start-up for the NHS in England, said the treatments would help thousands of patients have a better quality of life.

“This life-extending breast cancer treatment is the 100th to be made rapidly available to NHS patients thanks to the Cancer Drugs Fund, and will help people with secondary breast cancer live longer.”

Meanwhile, Trodelvy, also called Sacituzumab Govitecan and made by Gilead Sciences, has also been approved to treat a type of cancer that cannot be surgically removed. The drug may benefit women with incurable triple-negative secondary breast cancer.

Triple-negative breast cancer is most common in women under the age of 40, affecting 15% to 20% of all women with the disease. Around 650 patients will have access to Trodelvy.

Nice said the goal of the new treatment is to target a protein on the surface of tumor cells that eventually causes their death.

Clinical trials show that the drug can slow the progression of the disease by several months and extend a person’s life by about five months compared with traditional chemotherapy.

Nice said the drug can be considered as a treatment option after women have already received “two or more systemic therapies.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, CEO of Breast Cancer Now, said: “The news that Trodelvy has finally been recommended by Nice for use on the NHS in England marks a momentous and long-awaited milestone for certain women living with secondary breast. incurable triple negative”. cancer.

“After a devastating interim rejection in April, this landmark decision will offer new and effective treatment for these women and, crucially, give them hope of a few invaluable extra months to live and do what matters most to them and their families. loved ones”.

The NHS in England will make both drugs available through the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Helen Knight, acting director of drug evaluation in Nice, said: “Both Piqray and Trodelvy are effective additional options that offer the hope of longer life and better quality of life for people with these types of advanced breast cancer.

“And both represent another step in delaying chemotherapy, allowing people to stay well longer.

“We are pleased that the companies that make these medicines have been able to work so constructively with us and the NHS England to come to agreements that mean we can make both routinely available on the NHS to some 3,450 people with this type of medicine. of advanced breast cancer.

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