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Roche under pressure to drop price of Kadcyla

Published on 27/10/15 at 10:16am
Credit: NICE

The UK’s largest breast cancer charity has called for drug manufacturer Roche to drop the price of Kadcyla before it is removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund.

The letter, signed by Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, follows the launch of a petition led by the charity earlier this month demanding Roche drop the price of Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine). It has already been signed by more than 40,000 people.

The cancer drug was removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund in the last round of cuts in September, denying up to 10,000 patients access to treatment.

And Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, says: “No one is disputing the fact that Kadcyla is a brilliant drug. But if oncologists can’t prescribe it to their patients everybody involved in the drug development process loses out – from research teams in labs tasked to strive for better outcomes to the women resting all their hopes on a drug that can extend their lives.”

She adds: “The situation is becoming increasingly desperate as shown by the volume of people that have come forward to sign our petition; it’s time for Roche to act, and make this one-of-a-kind treatment available for those that need it at a price that the NHS can afford.

Kadcyla is the first and only targeted chemotherapy drug for secondary breast cancer. At list price it costs on average of more than £70,000 per year per patient. The treatment is designed for advanced cancers that have stopped responding to conventional therapies, and can give women with secondary breast cancer extra months or years to live.

Breast Cancer Now is calling on Roche to “drop the price down to a level that the NHS can afford” before it is removed from the fund. The letter states that the charity’s call for a drop in the price of Kadcyla is ‘a short-term request’, as the Cancer Drugs Fund is due to expire in March 2016 and there are no details yet from NHS England as to how it will operate in future.

Breast Cancer Now says it has campaigned for the Government and the pharma industry to work together to address the ongoing issue of access and pricing for new and effective treatments for breast cancer. However, the charity says progress has been slow and neither government nor industry are any closer to a solution that works for the NHS, the industry, or for patients.

Yasmita Kumar

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