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Pressure put on Roche to cut Kadcyla's UK price

30,000 people sign petition to help make the breast cancer drug available on the NHS
Roche Kadcyla trastuzumab emtansine cancer

Nearly 30,000 people have signed a petition calling on Roche to lower the price of its breast cancer drug Kadcyla in the UK so that it can be made routinely available on the NHS.

The new drug, which can add an average of six months to the lives of women with inoperable breast cancer, currently costs £90,000 per patient and is not eligible for coverage by the NHS in any UK nation.

Both the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) have so far decided Kadcyla is not a cost-effective use of NHS resources, despite evidence of its clinical benefits to patients.

Margaret Connolly, a breast cancer survivor, started the petition in memory of her niece, Helen Mulhearn, who passed away from the same disease. The petition was distributed via Care2, an online petition service whose aims are to support campaigns that help individuals, animals and the environment.

Concerning the cost of the drug, at the time of rejection by NICE the body's chief executive Andrew Dillon said: “We had hoped that Roche would have recognised the challenge the NHS faces in managing the adoption of expensive new treatments by reducing the cost of Kadcyla to the NHS.”

The drug is currently the most expensive cancer drug introduced in the UK to date, although it is being funded for some patients in England via the government's Cancer Drugs Fund.

Speaking to the BBC in August Jennifer Cozzone, head of health economics and pricing at Roche, defended the company's decision on the price of Kadcyla, instead laying the blame on NICE.

"We're very disappointed with this decision and, frankly, not just for patients who would have had the opportunity to receive Kadcyla with a positive decision,” she said.

"Considering Kadcyla is the eighth medicine in a row that NICE has declined to make available to women with advanced breast cancer in the UK, we don't believe this is a question of the price of Kadcyla.”

The Swiss manufacturer has also commented that it is not commercially possible to make what it says would have to be a 60% cost cut to meet NICE's cost-effectiveness threshold.

Kadcyla is an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) that combines the monoclonal antibody in Herceptin (trastuzumab) with ImmunoGen's DM1, a cytotoxic payload designed to boost its ability to kill tumour cells.

In trials, the treatment extended the lives of women with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer by an additional 5.8 months compared with the currently licensed combination.

22nd October 2014

From: Sales, Healthcare



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