PUBLISHED ON: 6 August 2013

Draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that a drug called pertuzumab (Perjeta) should not be used by the NHS to treat a type of secondary breast cancer.

In July NICE rejected another drug for treating secondary breast cancer called everolimus (Afinitor).

Responding to NICE’s decision not to recommend pertuzumab Liz Carroll Assistant Director of Services at Breast Cancer Care said: ‘This rejection of yet another treatment for patients with advanced breast cancer will be extremely disappointing news for those living with the disease.’

What is pertuzumab?

Pertuzumab also known by its brand name Perjeta is a type of targeted therapy. This type of drug blocks the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with the biology of the cancer cells.

Pertuzumab can be used to treat people with HER2-positive secondary breast cancer (when cancer cells have spread from the first cancer site and grown elsewhere in the body for example the bones).

The drug received its UK licence in March 2013. However unless recommended by NICE a drug won’t be routinely prescribed in the NHS.

Not cost-effective

Said Carroll: ‘For patients with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer Perjeta used with Herceptin and chemotherapy can help to delay progression of this aggressive disease but has been found not cost-effective for the NHS.

‘While we recognise that decisions about approval of cancer drugs are based on many complex factors many patients are telling us of their increasing anxiety about lack of access to new treatments and their perception that more are being turned down.’

Is NICE’s decision final?

The NICE guidance is currently in draft form and a final version won’t be published until after a consultation.

Said Carroll: ‘Looking ahead to the introduction of “value based pricing” for drugs next year we want to see a clear assurance for patients that this will enable more not fewer approved treatment options and that drugs that delay disease progression or improve symptom control for people with advanced disease are seen as of equal value as those that improve overall survival.

‘We await the results of the consultation period and the final guidance issued from NICE on Perjeta.’

Find out more information about treatment for secondary breast cancer.