4,000 women with breast cancer could benefit from new pill taken twice a day

·2-min read
An expert analysing a mammogram cancer (Rui Vieira/PA) (PA Wire)
An expert analysing a mammogram cancer (Rui Vieira/PA) (PA Wire)

Around 4,000 women with breast cancer could benefit from a new twice-daily pill approved on the NHS.

The charity Breast Cancer Now has welcomed a decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to offer abemaciclib which cuts the chance of the disease coming back after tumour removal.

The drug, which is used with hormone therapy, is effective in people who have HR+. HER2- early breast cancer that has a high risk of recurrence and who have had their tumour removed by surgery.

Results from a clinical trial found that abemaciclib given with hormone therapy cut the risk of cancer returning by more than 30 per cent compared to hormone therapy alone.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “It’s fantastic thousands of women with this type of primary breast cancer will now have an additional treatment option available on the NHS to help further reduce the risk of the disease coming back.

“The fear of breast cancer returning or spreading to other parts of their body and becoming incurable can cause considerable anxiety for so many women and their loved ones.

“New effective treatments such as abemaciclib, which can offer more women the chance to further reduce the risk of the disease recurring, are therefore extremely welcome and this is an important step-change in the drug options available for this group of patients.”

Helen Knight, interim director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said: “Today’s positive draft recommendation, which comes less than a month after abemaciclib received its licence, is fantastic news.

“The fact that we have been able to produce draft recommendations so quickly is testament to the success of our ambition to support patient access to clinically and cost effective treatments as early as possible.

“Until now there have been no targeted treatments for people with this type of breast cancer.

“Abemaciclib with hormone therapy represents a significant improvement in how it is treated because being able to have a targeted treatment earlier after surgery will increase the chance of curing the disease and reduce the likelihood of developing incurable advanced disease.”

Around 50,000 people a year are diagnosed in England with breast cancer.

HER2-negative breast cancer is the most common type and accounts for around 70 per cent of all breast cancers.

It is estimated early breast cancer comes back after initial treatment in around 30 per cent of people.

Professor Peter Johnson, cancer director at NHS England, said: “Thanks in part to this latest deal struck by NHS England, NHS patients will be able to access another new targeted drug for a common and aggressive form of breast cancer.

“Abemaciclib, when used alongside a hormone therapy, offers a new, doubly targeted, treatment option, helping to increase the chances of beating the cancer for good, as well as meeting the NHS’ commitment to delivering improved cancer care under our Long Term Plan.”

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