A Healthcare Good News Story

Following a tireless campaign by cancer patients, doctors and campaigners, the breast cancer drug Kadcyla has been re-listed on the UK’s Cancer Drug Fund (CDF) List and will remain available to terminal patients suffering with HER2-positive tumours for whom the medicine Herceptin no longer works.

The pharmaceutical firm Roche’s Kadcyla drug is proven to prolong the lives of women with advanced breast cancer by at least six months. With minimal side effects, Kadcyla improves the quality of life for those with terminal breast cancer.

The turn-around comes after the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) declared in August 2014, that Kadcyla should not be available on the National Health Service (NHS). With a reported cost of £90,000 per patient per year Kadcyla was considered by NICE to not be cost-effective. The drug was however still to be available to patients via the CDF.

A little over a year later, on 3 September 2015, after failed negotiations with Roche to lower the cost of the drug, NICE took the decision to remove Kadcyla from the CDF, removing access to the drug entirely, affecting over 1500 woman per year.

Increased media scrutiny over the past two months, along with campaigns for the reduction in the cost of medicines such as Kadcyla have had the desired reaction and on 4 November 2015, NHS England announced that Kadcyla would be relisted and continue to be made available through the CDF.

An online campaign made via change.org by the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Now, received over 42,000 supporters in its campaign ‘Roche: Don’t put a price on women’s lives’.

This story shows great success for those who will benefit from the use of Kadcyla, and for those who will benefit from another 7 drug uses that were also re-listed onto CDF List. Unfortunately, the difficult decision to cut medicines from the NHS budget continues as 18 further drug uses remain de-listed.

Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Now said “It’s encouraging to learn that Roche and NHS England have been able to come to a deal, but patients relying on other de-listed drugs such as the breast cancer drug Avastin for future treatments will no doubt be devastated. There’s a bigger problem with our drug access and pricing system that will not go away.”

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly with whom the issue of medicine affordability lies. Whether that be with the pharmaceutical industry whose prices are high but who require large financial investment in order to research and develop medicines such as Kadcyla – this alone taking over 15 years to develop or with the NHS England’s budget that is continuously being restrained. Yet it is clear that this budget can only be stretched so far and consideration must be given across the board to all medicines that require funding.

Thursfields’ pharmaceuticals and healthcare team is led by Shane Miller who is a Director and Head of Private Client teams.

Thursfields’ specialist cross firm team has a wealth of experience advising clients on a range of issues across the healthcare and pharmaceuticals sector. We have vast experience in the healthcare sector we have represented an AIM listed company on the acquisition of a Canadian research group (involved in the development of treatment for allergic rhinitis and COPD) and the re-admission of the enlarged entity to trading on AIM. We are aware of the ever changing market of drugs and the need for health practices to recognise this.

To discuss how Thursfields healthcare team can help you, please contact Shane on 01562 820575 or email smiller@thursfields.co.uk

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