Breast cancer charities have expressed “utter disappointment” after the health regulator said a new drug to treat breast cancer was “not value for money’’.
The latest draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommended that the drug everolimus should not be available for widespread use on the NHS to treat a form of advanced breast cancer.
Charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said the announcement would come as a blow to the 1,500 women living in England and Wales who would be eligible for treatment.
The drug, also known as afinitor, is licensed for use in post-menopausal women with HER2 negative, hormone-receptor-positive advanced breast cancer if their disease has returned following a type of hormone therapy.
Manufacturers say the drug, if taken in combination with another medication, can extend the lives of patients for up to five months but Nice said it was not “cost effective”.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s chief executive Chris Askew said the decision was an utter disappointment. “The ever-present issue of cost has put a question mark over an invaluable option for women where treatment options are already very limited.”
Nice’s chief executive, Sir Andrew Dillon, said: “We are committed to making sure the NHS provides the treatments that can make the greatest difference to people’s lives. This means weighing up how well a treatment works and comparing it to similar treatments in the NHS while also taking into account any associated side effects and the cost that the health service is being asked to pay.”
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of the charity Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “We hope that this is just a delay rather than the end of the line for everolimus as further data on the effectiveness of this treatment is expected in the future. In the meantime, while not a long- term solution, access to the drug is available through the Cancer Drugs Fund.”
Rachel Rawson, clinical nurse specialist at charity Breast Cancer Care, added: “We recognise that decisions about approval of cancer drugs are based on many complex factors, including absolute gains in overall survival and impact on quality of life, but this rejection... will be extremely disappointing news for those living with the disease who have limited treatment options.”