Terminal breast cancer patients have spoken of their distress after learning that a life-extending drug they had been told would be available to them looks set to be withdrawn.
National advisory body NICE is reviewing drugs made available through the old cancer drugs fund, and has rejected Kadcyla for use on the NHS. It believes the price per patient set by manufacturer Roche is too expensive. Roche says discussions are continuing. One patient said the move felt “cruel”. In clinical trials, Kadcyla – £90,000 at full cost per patient – was shown to extend terminal breast cancer patients’ lives by an average of six months, and to dramatically improve quality of life when compared with other treatments. It is used to treat people with HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and cannot be surgically removed. Bonnie Fox, who is 39 and from Croydon, south London, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that she had been informed by her oncologist that the drug would be available to her when her current drug became ineffective. She said when she had discovered the drug was no longer routinely available on the NHS, she had been “completely devastated”. “I’m really dependent on those extra years… they could [help me achieve] extra milestones with my son, help me see him get to school,” she said. “To have that suddenly taken away feels so cruel. You know that drug is there, and you know that drug is good.” Patient Gill Smith said had been assured by her oncologist that Kadcyla would be available when she needed it.