England’s Medicines Corps recommends life-saving cancer drug

More patients with a rare form of breast cancer will receive a potentially life-saving cancer drug according to new guidelines released by a health agency in England.

Manufactured by MSD, the drug — pembrolizumab — can help shrink “triple negative” tumours. These occur in about 15% of breast cancer cases but are difficult to treat, according to the bbc.

Known commercially as Keytruda, the drug is an immunotherapy usually given alongside chemotherapy.

Although it has already been used in the country to prolong the life of women with certain forms of end-stage breast cancer, the recommendation from England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) means it will be now offered to patients with previous disease.

NICE is a public body that evaluates whether medicines and medical devices offer good value for money. The output of this new direction means the country’s public health body, the National Health Service England, would have to fund the drug for eligible patients.

With a new review underway, pembrolizumab may soon be available for more patients.

Helen Knight, acting director of drug evaluation at NICE, said in a statement: “Triple-negative breast cancer has a relatively poor prognosis and there are few effective treatments compared to other types of the disease.

“Today’s draft guidance means we have now recommended 3 new treatments for routine use in the NHS since June, helping to address this unmet need and giving hope for a longer life. and better to thousands of people.”

Campaigners called the decision “fantastic” and said it would help around 1,600 people with primary triple-negative breast cancer.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said in a statement: “This a less common but often more aggressive type of breast cancer is more common in women with an inherited BRCA gene, women under age 40, and black women, and the risk of recurrence of triple-negative breast cancer and spread to other parts of the body in the early years after treatment is higher than for other types of breast cancer.

Relatively few options have always been available for these patients, she added. Increased access to pembrolizumab could mean not only that fewer people need invasive surgery and breast removal, but that more could now survive “this devastating disease”, she said. .

“This treatment now needs to be urgently assessed by the Scottish Medicines Consortium so that even more women across the UK have the chance to benefit from it,” she added.

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