The guidelines follow a confidential commercial agreement for Perjeta (pertuzumab) agreed between NHS England and the drugmaker late last year, paving the pay for its move from the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) to the NHS’ routine commissioning stream, when used to treat advanced HER2-positive breast cancer.
The drug has been available via the CDF since 2013, benefiting around 1,300 patients per year, and NICE’s decision now “offers hope following several years of uncertainty over how this treatment would be funded in the longer term,” said Roche.
“This is the news we have been waiting for. It is great to see that Roche, NHS England and NICE have worked together to ensure that people with advanced breast cancer now, and in the future can continue to have access to Perjeta,” said Dr David Miles, consultant medical oncologist, Mount Vernon Cancer Centre.
More than 53,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK, of which between 15 and 25 percent is HER2-positive.
According to clinical trial data, Perjeta, when given with Herceptin (trastuzumab) and docetaxel in patients with metastatic breast cancer, produced a significant median overall survival benefit of 15.7 months when compared to placebo use with the same two products (56.5 months compared to 40.8 months).
“Perjeta’s benefits are extraordinary, offering women with incurable metastatic breast cancer over four and a half years to live – nearly 16 precious extra months with their loved ones compared to existing treatments,” said Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now.
“While a long time coming, we’re thrilled that tough negotiation and flexibility by NHS England and NICE, and the willingness of Roche to put patients first and compromise on price, has again ensured thousands of women can be given more time to live.”
However, highlighting the continued postcode lottery of care across the UK, she went on to stress that Perjeta has never been routinely available in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. “This is the most effective breast cancer drug in years and we must urgently see equality in access for NHS patients across the UK.”
Perjeta has now been rejected for NHS use three times in Scotland. Baroness Morgan called on the Scottish Government, Roche and the Scottish Medicines Consortium to “come back together urgently to find a solution for Scottish patients”, so that they too can have access to the drug on the health service.
“With NICE decisions normally being followed in Wales and Northern Ireland, we now also hope Roche and the devolved nations will be able to agree deals to see Perjeta made routinely available in those parts of the UK for the very first time,” she added.