A revolutionary drug which extends the life of the women suffering from advanced Breast Cancer has been approved for use by NHS (National Health Service) and is now made available for use in England. It is the result of a confidential deal between the NHS and the Swiss drug manufacturing company Roche, backed by drug regulatory body Nice.

The drug named ‘Kadcyla’ (trastuzumab emtansine) which was considered to be one of the greatest breakthroughs in medicine last decade was previously priced at $101,000 per year for patients seeking treatment in the UK.

Kadcyla was approved for use in the US in 2013.

Campaigners were disappointed when the drug was rejected by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2016 due to its high price. In order to be approved by NICE, the drug had to pass a cost-effectiveness test. However, the details of the new discounted price which is being offered to NHS by Roche is still confidential.

Kadcyla is currently being funded through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) but will soon be under the NHS funding later this summer. NICE’s decision to reverse its outlook on the drug Kadcyla was announced at the NHS Confederation held in Liverpool.

Revolutionary drug - Kadcyla

Kadcyla is a combination of two drugs which is licensed to treat patients with HER2 positive breast cancer which has already spread to other parts of the body and cannot be surgically removed.

Cancer must also have failed to respond to initial treatment using Herceptin. Kadcyla combines Herceptin with a potent chemotherapy agent and works by attaching itself to the HER2 receptor on cancer cells. It then blocks the signals which stimulate the growth and spreading of the cancer cells. The chemotherapy agent also penetrates in the cell and causes it to die from inside.

On an average, the drug adds six months of life to a woman suffering from the terminal breast cancer. It also considerably improves the quality of life, compared to other treatments, and reduces side effects.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in the US with about 45,000 new cases each year, of which 20% are of the HER2 positive form.

Kadcyla will now be used to treat about 1200 HER2 positive patients annually.

Decision made everyone happy

The announcement to make Kadcyla available again was praised by campaigners all over the country and was a certainly a good news for the sufferers. When the drug was rejected by NICE, 115,000 people had signed a Breast Cancer Now petition requesting NICE and the manufacturer to ensure that it remains available.

According to BBC News, the chief executive of NHS, Simon Stevens has stated, "Tough negotiation and flexibility between the NHS and Roche means both patients and taxpayers are getting a good deal."