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NHS Approves "Life-changing" Cancer Drug

Welsh Government announces breast cancer drug Perjeta will be available to NHS patients

Cabinet Secretary for Health Vaughan Gething has confirmed Perjeta (pertuzumab), to treat advanced breast cancer, will be made available on the NHS in Wales.

It follows the green-light being given to the Welsh Government by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).

Perjeta, taken in combination with Herceptin (trastuzumab) and docetaxel (a chemotherapy drug), is a first-line treatment for patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

It provides treatment for people whose cancer has returned to the breast but is inoperable, or where it has spread to other parts of the body. 

It gives patients with incurable breast cancer nearly 16 additional months of good-quality life, on average - compared to the alternative treatment option of trastuzumab and docetaxel alone.

In preparation for the NICE recommendation, NHS Wales said it had been working closely with the medicine’s manufacturer Roche, to reach an agreement to ensure it is available. 

Under the terms of the Welsh Government’s New Treatment Fund health boards in Wales must now make Perjeta available within 60 days. 

It is estimated that 50 women each year in Wales will now be eligible for treatment with Perjeta.

Cancer Research Charity, Breast Cancer Now has responded to the news.

It's Chief Executive, Delyth Morgan, said:

"This is fantastic news for Welsh patients with HER2-positive breast cancer. Perjeta is a life-changing drug and we are thrilled that - following its approval by NICE - the Welsh Government has today confirmed it will be available for women in Wales within the next two months.

"Perjeta's benefits are extraordinary, offering women with incurable metastatic breast cancer nearly 16 precious extra months with their loved ones compared to existing treatments. We're absolutely delighted that Welsh patients can now be given more time to live.

"This is the most effective breast cancer drug in years, and we now need to see equality in access for patients across the UK.

"Perjeta has been rejected three times in a row in Scotland, and the Scottish Government, Roche and the Scottish Medicines Consortium must come back together urgently to find a solution for Scottish patients.

We also now hope that Roche and Northern Ireland's Department of Health will be able to agree a deal to ensure this drug is made available to NI patients for the very first time."

Cabinet Secretary for Health Vaughan Gething said:

“I’m pleased that Perjeta (pertuzumab) will now be routinely available on the Welsh NHS for people with advanced breast cancer.

"The Welsh Government’s flagship £80m New Treatment Fund is making more medicines available quicker than ever before.

"On average, new medicines are now being made available in only 10 days following recommendation.

"This means people with life-threatening conditions are getting much faster access to the latest medicines when they need them.”

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