A life-extending drug for breast cancer sufferers has been described as “too expensive” for the NHS by Nice, the government's regulatory body for medicines.
Kadcyla, which is owned by Roche, increases life expectancy of those with a progressed form of the disease by an average of six months. It is used in patients where the cancer has spread to multiple parts of the body and therefore cannot be removed by surgery.
However, the drug is expensive – it costs £90,000 per patient, and Nice decided that this is too much to be routinely prescribed on the NHS in England and Wales.
For the time being, the medicine will continue to be available for women in England via the Cancer Drugs Fund, which was set up specifically to pay for cancer treatments that aren't routinely available on the NHS. Roche recently agreed to sell Kadcyla to NHS England for a reduced, undisclosed price, to stop it being removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund.
A spokesperson for Nice said: “Although Roche recently agreed a price discount with NHS England to allow Kadcyla to be retained on the Cancer Drugs Fund, they made no changes to the patient access scheme available for the Nice appraisal, which means it is still above the top of our specially extended range of cost effectiveness for cancer drugs.”
But the Cancer Drugs Fund is due to come to an end in March 2016 due to lack of funding, which means women in the UK will no longer be able to access the drug. A replacement fund is expected to be launched the following month, but there are currently no specific details.
Nice said those already taking Kadcyla should continue doing so until either they or their doctor believe it is an appropriate time to stop. At present around 800 women in the UK benefit from taking the medicine each year, and Nice said it will review its decision if new research becomes available.