24/05/2006

Herceptin granted UK license

Breast cancer drug Herceptin has been licensed for use in the early stages of the disease in the UK by the European Medicines Agency.

The drug, which is already used in Britain to treat the later stages of breast cancer, will now be appraised by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence to see if it is safe and cost-effective.

NICE is expected to issue guidance on the drug in July.

Herceptin has recently been the subject of several court cases involving women with early stage breast cancer wanting to be treated with the drug on the NHS.

Last year, Barbara Clark, from Somerset, won her case to receive Herceptin on the NHS, followed by Ann Marie Rogers, from Swindon, who won her case in April this year.

Ms Clark welcomed the decision, calling it "great news".

The news was also welcomed by Breast Cancer Campaign CEO Pamela Goldberg, who said: "We congratulate the European Medicines Agency for prioritising the treatment and putting it through the licensing system so quickly.

"Herceptin has previously been available for patients with metastatic breast cancer however recent clinical trials have shown that Herceptin will reduce the recurrence of breast cancer by 46 per cent when used in early stage HER2 positive breast cancer after surgery and chemotherapy.

"This is a significant step for breast cancer research and is a major advance in the treatment of women with early stage breast cancer."

(KMcA)

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