NHS watchdog backs Herceptin26th June 2006
The breast cancer drug Herceptin has been approved for use on the NHS for the treatment of early stage breast cancer.
The decision by the National Institute for Clinical and Health Excellence (NICE) was made in record time following an emotional campaign, and a number of high profile court cases.
In May last year US doctors indicated a trial of Herceptin on early stage breast cancers had been promising – the results of the trials suggested that Herceptin could halve the chances of recurrence in early stage cancers.
Barbara Clark, a former nurse whose primary care trust would not prescribe Herceptin for her early stage breast cancer, was the first of many women who came forward.
She told reporters she would sell her house to buy the drug herself - but three months later she was threatening legal action instead. Her PCT finally said it would give her the drug - because of her exceptional circumstances.
But she responded by saying she wanted to see all women get the treatment, and more women came forward to demand it.
However, NICE, which has looked closely at the evidence, has now given the green light for Herceptin to be used for early breast cancer.
Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said it was coincidental that Herceptin was among the first group of drugs to be considered under a new fast-track assessment system.
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