New breast cancer drug approved for NHS use in Scotland

By Émer O’Toole and Jack Thomson

A new breast cancer drug available on the Scottish NHS is set to benefit 118 women each year.

Health campaigners at Breast Cancer Now said the drug, Kadcyla, will have a significant impact on cancer treatment.

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison said the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), the body which approves drugs for use by the health service, had made a “good decision” in making Kadcyla available.

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison. Photograph: Flikr

The drug can make patients dying from an aggressive form of breast cancer live longer, with more than 13,000 women signing a petition calling for it to be made routinely available.

Breast cancer patients in Scotland had been denied the treatment for more than two years after the SMC rejected Kadcyla in October 2014.

Over 4,600 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Scotland each year, with the disease responsible for about 1,000 deaths annually.

Robison said: “I’ve certainly met a number of women who have been on Kadcyla and who have wanted to be on Kadcyla, and now this approval has been made the clinical decisions of who will be appropriate will mean that many women will benefit.”

The SMC’s decision comes after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in England published final draft guidance last year stating Kadcyla is not set at an affordable price.

The drug will be removed from the NHS in England in June and the decision has triggered a fierce backlash from breast cancer patients and campaign groups.

The SMC decision was announced on the day Robison declared Scotland is “one of the top nations in the world for accessing new medicines for cancer”.

SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said the drug – also known as trastuzumab emtansine – had been approved after its manufacturers offered a discount in the cost.

He said: “From the valuable testimonies given by patient groups and clinicians at our meeting, we know that trastuzumab emtansine will be welcomed by patients and their families for the treatment of breast cancer.

Alison Thomson, a breast cancer survivor talks about the benefits the new drug will bring.





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