Breast cancer drug pertuzumab available on the NHS

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has announced that breast cancer drug pertuzumab (Perjeta, Roche Products) can be made routinely available for patients on the NHS.

he final guidance recommends pertuzumab in combination with trastuzumab (Herceptin) and chemotherapy as an option before breast cancer surgery to help shrink the cancer for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer that is locally advanced, inflammatory or early-stage and at high risk of coming back.

According to NICE, the committee accepted that there was evidence that adding pertuzumab to trastuzumab and chemotherapy was more successful at getting rid of cancer in the breast and lymph nodes before surgery. However because of a lack of long-term evidence, the committee remained uncertain about the extent to which this would reduce the risk of the disease coming back and result in longer survival.

Note: You unfortunately may have seen this announcement be misreported by a number of news outlets this morning, who wrongly reported that the drug had been approved to treat ‘advanced breast cancer’.

The drug, Perjeta, has been approved by NICE to treat primary (early) breast cancer and will now be available on the NHS – to be taken in combination with Herceptin and chemotherapy – for certain patients with HER2-positive, locally-advanced, inflammatory or early-stage breast cancer at high risk of recurrence.

Locally advanced breast cancer is early breast cancer that has recurred or spread to another area in the breast or armpit only. Advanced breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body and is incurable.