NHS doctors in England able to prescribe pertuzumab after price cut agreed with maker
A drug that can give women suffering from incurable advanced breast cancer an extra 16 months of life has been approved for general use in the NHS in England after a price cut was negotiated with the manufacturer.
The decision by Nice, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, to give the green light for NHS doctors to use pertuzumab, sold under the brand name of Perjeta by the Swiss drug company Roche, was enthusiastically welcomed by breast cancer charities.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast CancerNow, said the benefits of the drug for patients with the aggressive form known as Her2-positive breast cancer were extraordinary.
“This is the best news patients with Her2-positive breast cancer and their doctors could have hoped for,” she said. “Perjeta is a truly life-changing drug and we are absolutely delighted and relieved that Nice has finally been able to recommend it for routine NHS use in England.”
Perjeta had been too expensive to be considered for NHS use by Nice, which approves or rejects drugs on the basis of cost-effectiveness. But recently NHS England has begun to intervene with the manufacturers over the fraught issue of the prices of new drugs. Last November, it announced it had struck a deal with Roche.
“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,” said Morgan.
But she was concerned that women with metastatic breast cancer – which has spread to other parts of the body and is incurable – would not get the drug in other parts of the UK.
“While Perjeta will now continue to be the gold standard of care in England, it 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,” she said. She called for other countries to negotiate a deal with Roche.
Roche said the decision ends several years of uncertainty over a drug that is approved for use in 19 other European countries including France, Italy and Spain. “We are extremely pleased that due to the collaborative approach Roche, NHS England and Nice have taken, Perjeta will now be routinely funded on the NHS for eligible patients with advanced breast cancer,” said Richard Erwin, general manager of Roche Products Ltd.
Nice decided not to approve a second drug for advanced breast cancer, fulvestrant, sold under the brand name Faslodex, which slows its progress by suppressing the hormones that feed it. Samia al Qadhi, chief executive of charity Breast Cancer Care, said “This closed door will be a blow to many diagnosed with the cruel disease.”