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Monday 24th October 2016

NICE reconsiders breast cancer drug

14th October 2010

The government’s drug rationing body has had a rethink over prescribing a “last chance” drug on the NHS to women with advanced breast cancer.


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has indicated that it may now be willing to fund lapatinib, which costs £27,000 a year.

In June, NICE felt there was insufficient evidence of the benefits of lapatinib to justify that cost and a subsequent appeal by makers GlaxoSmithKline has also been refused.

Lapatinib, marketed as Tyverb, is licensed for use after the cancer has progressed in patients taking herceptin. Patients are supposed to come off herceptin if their tumours start to grow again but many doctors are keeping women on the drug even in these cases.

In a departure from its normal functions NICE wants to examine this use of herceptin (made by Roche), for which it is not licensed, in comparison to Tyverb.

NICE say it is in the interests of patients and the NHS and will ask both manufacturers for data. It has asked the Department of Health for permission to carry out an appraisal on the use of herceptin for advanced and metastatic breast cancer and lapatinib together.

NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said: “If the Department of Health gives permission, the Institute will carry out this appraisal as quickly as possible. In the meantime, patients who are currently receiving lapatinib can carry on doing so and NHS bodies will be expected to make decisions locally on the funding and choice of treatments.”


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