Life-extending breast cancer drug approved for use in Scotland

Charities have welcomed the decision to approve a drug to treat advanced breast cancer for use on the NHS in Scotland.

Monday, 14th January 2019, 6:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 1:38 pm
Life-extending breast cancer drug approved for use in Scotland
Life-extending breast cancer drug approved for use in Scotland

Perjeta, which is also known as pertuzumab, can extend the life of patients with an advanced form of the disease by almost 16 months compared to other treatments.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium - which had three times rejected the drug- has now agreed it can be given to patients with HER2-positive breast cancer that has returned to the breast but is inoperable, or when it has spread to other parts of the body.

The SMC approved Perjeta as a new treatment option before surgery for patients with early-stage breast cancer last month. It has now made it available to patients living with secondary, incurable breast cancer.

More than 12,000 people had signed a petition from the charity calling for the treatment to be made available to women in Scotland. That was after an SMC decision in June 2017 when it said the drug was “very expensive” and may not be “good use of limited NHS resources”.

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The decision to make it available now comes after it heard from doctors and patients as part of its PACE process, which considers medicines used to treat very rare conditions or for patients reaching the end of life.

SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said: “We know from the testimonies given through our PACE process how devastating this condition is for patients and their families and we hope this decision, which offers the opportunity of extra time when the patient feels well, will be welcomed by them.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman welcomed the announcement, saying: “This decision could extend the lives of women with incurable cancer and make a real difference to their families.”

She added the decision came after Perjeta was approved in December for women with early stage breast cancer and as a result “even more women will be able to benefit from this treatment”.

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Ashleigh Simpson, policy and campaigns manager for Scotland at Breast Cancer Now, said: “We are absolutely delighted for patients that the SMC has finally been able to approve Perjeta for routine use on Scotland’s NHS.

“Perjeta is a truly life-changing drug and this decision will have a profound and far-reaching impact for so many Scottish women and their families. The benefits of this drug are extraordinary, offering women with incurable secondary breast nearly 16 precious extra months with their loved ones compared to existing treatments.”