New drug to fight breast cancer is not enough

Mary Allison, Director for Scotland at Breast Cancer Now
Mary Allison, Director for Scotland at Breast Cancer Now

A breast cancer charity has welcomed a drug that could extend lives – but is warning that much more needs to be done for patients.

The drug Eribulin, which could extend the lives of secondary breast cancer patients, has just been accepted by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for use on the NHS in Scotland.

The chemotherapy drug is used to treat advanced breast cancer, usually for people who have already had at least two other courses of chemotherapy.

It works by stopping the cancer cells from separating into two new cells, therefore blocking the growth of the cancer.

Breast Cancer Now’s Director for Scotland Mary Allison, said: “We welcome the SMC’s decision to approve eribulin. This gives women in Scotland who are living with incurable secondary breast cancer more treatment options and hope of more time to live.

“However, the system is far from perfect. A number of promising life-extending drugs have been rejected through this process.

“We believe the system can and must work better to get a fair deal for the NHS and unlock promising medicines for patients.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to review ways to improve access to these medicines.

“We’re looking forward to submitting our proposals for improvements to ensure the system in Scotland is working at its best for the women who desperately want to access these life-extending drugs and the hope they bring.”

Along with today’s announcement, the SMC also announced its rejection of breast cancer drug pertuzumab (Perjeta) to be used as a treatment for early stage breast cancer.

The drug was rejected on the basis that there was not a strong enough economic analysis of the drug.

Pertuzumab (Perjeta) has also previously been rejected as a life-extending treatment for women with incurable secondary breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Now’s ambition is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live.

The charity, which launched in June 2015, was created by the merger of Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. wants to work to bring together all those affected by the disease to fund research, share knowledge and find answers.

For more information on Breast Cancer Now’s work, visit breastcancernow.org or find them on Twitter and Facebook.