United Kingdom

Women with incurable breast cancer will benefit from new drug which can extend life by eight months

Thousands of women with incurable breast cancer will benefit from a new life-extending drug on the health service.

The NHS drugs regulator approved the use of ribociclib, also known as Kisqali, which can extend life by eight months.

Around 3,300 women a year could benefit from the decision, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said.

The daily treatment can delay the progress of breast cancer and the point at which a patient needs to start chemotherapy, as well as extend life.

The use of ribociclib, also known as Kisqali, has been approved by the NHS drugs regulator

Ribociclib can be used with the drug fulvestrant to treat hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative, advanced breast cancer.

It has been available since 2019 through the Cancer Drugs Fund, which was set up in 2011 to give patients access to unproven or experimental cancer therapies.

But Nice’s ruling means it is now available through the NHS to anyone who needs it after evidence showed it offers value for money.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, of the charity Breast Cancer Now, said: ‘This life-changing treatment will now bring thousands more women living with incurable secondary breast cancer hope of precious extra time to live well.

‘As well as offering certain patients with incurable breast cancer extra time, this innovative drug combination can help delay the need for chemotherapy and its debilitating side-effects.’

Approximately two thirds of young women with breast cancer have hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth receptor 2-negative tumours.

A clinical trial found ribociclib plus fulvestrant prevented tumours from growing for an average of 14.6 months – up from 9.1 months with fulvestrant alone.

 Patients given the treatment also lived for an average of 40.2 months – up from 32.5 months.

Ribociclib works by disrupting proteins in cancer cells, stopping them from dividing and growing.

Following a week of beta-blockers, the scientists discovered its effect in stopping the spread of the cancer (stock - 3D illustration of breast cancer)

It is given as three 200mg tablets once daily for 21 consecutive days, followed by seven days off treatment before the cycle repeats.

A pack of 63 tablets has a list price of £2,950, but the manufacturer has offered the NHS an undisclosed discount.

Meindert Boysen, of the Nice Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: ‘Treatments that can postpone disease progression are important because they can mean some people can avoid the often unpleasant side-effects of chemotherapy, and delay the need for its use in others.

‘We are pleased therefore that our original decision to make ribociclib available through the CDF not only gave people access to it earlier… but has now, through the data collected during that time, allowed us to recommend it for routine use on the NHS.’

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