Breast cancer patients await ruling on Herceptin

Long-awaited recommendations on which women should receive the breast cancer drug Herceptin are to be issued tomorrow.

Thousands of patients who could benefit from the treatment are hoping that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) will say all those with suitable early-stage breast cancer should be entitled to receive it on prescription.

But there are concerns that NHS trusts, which are already struggling with multimillion-pound deficits, will continue to restrict access to the drug, which costs £20,000 a year per patient. The Government says there will be no extra money to fund the Nice guidance on Herceptin and the cost must be found from existing budgets.

Dr Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: "Without doubt, this will present a significant financial challenge to some organisations. The problem is that organisations have to plan their expenditure 18 months in advance and so when a drug is fast-tracked through the process - as this drug has been -it causes several difficulties.

"Trusts don't want to put too much money aside in case they end up in surplus with funds that could have gone to patient care but they have to make a guess because if they end up in deficit it is as bad and some other service has to be cut."

Roche, the maker of Herceptin, was granted a licence for its use in treating early-stage breast cancer by the European Medicines Agency last week.

The drug is already used in cases of advanced breast cancer but studies have shown that it can dramatically reduce the risk of the disease returning in women diagnosed at an earlier stage.

Women with early-stage disease have been forced to go to the High Court to seek the right to the treatment because NHS trusts have said the lack of a relevant licence meant they were under no obligation to provide it.

Under pressure from patients and ministers, Nice has fast-tracked assessment of the data on Herceptin for early breast cancer. More than 5,000 women a year diagnosed with early-stage, HER-2 positive breast cancer - an aggressive type - could benefit from Herceptin.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

    £7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

    Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

    £27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

    Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'