Breast cancer charities have welcomed a new drug which can extend the life of some women who have an advanced form of the disease.
Perjeta, the brand name for pertuzumab, can be used for patients with the aggressive HER-2 positive form of the disease, which accounts for a quarter of all breast cancers.
Developed by Roche, it is to be used alongside the drug Herceptin and chemotherapy and tests have found patients live an average of six months longer without their cancer getting worse, compared with those just on Herceptin and chemotherapy.
Trials are taking place to see if it can bring benefits to women with early breast cancer.
Consultant oncologist David Miles, of the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in London, said: “This license authorisation has been much anticipated and will be welcome news for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer in the UK.
“Perjeta has been shown to extend survival and control cancer for longer than the current standard of care - showing a magnitude of benefit that has not been seen since the launch of Herceptin more than 10 years ago.
“This marks a significant step forward in the treatment of this aggressive, difficult-to-treat disease.”
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “This is a good day for women with HER2 positive breast cancer.
“Perjeta has the potential to bring a significant, and precious, extension of life to around 2,000 women with advanced breast cancer each year, by preventing the cancer from progressing for longer than we’ve seen with other treatment combinations.
“Perjeta should be made available to all women who will benefit from it as soon as possible.
“Clinical trials in HER2 patients with early breast cancer are also taking place and we hope to see some really good results.”
Dr Rachel Greig from the UK’s leading breast cancer charity, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “We’ve been watching this closely as the benefits to patients are very clear.
“This drug has been proven to make a difference to some women with advanced breast cancer.
“Whilst it is not a cure women can manage their disease for longer with limited side effects and so we’re thrilled with the outcome at this stage.”
Dr Greig urged the manufacturer, the government, NICE and the Scottish Medicines Council, to make sure it is widely available.
She added: “Through positive results like these and through work we’re doing at our own dedicated research centre we’re leaping closer to better outcomes for women affected by breast cancer.”
NICE was in consultation about the drug and will make announce its findings in November.
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