Artist impression of a breast cancer cell

Breast cancer drug combination to be made available for routine NHS use

Thousands of breast cancer patients will potentially now have access to another potentially life-saving drug combination after amends to draft NICE guidance on a two-drug combination was taken out of the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) and entered routine recommendation for use on the NHS.

The draft guidance recommends ribociclib plus fulvestrant as an option for treating a type of breast cancer called hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative, locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

The combination is recommended for adults who have had previous endocrine therapy and where another drug option, exemestane plus everolimus, is the most appropriate alternative treatment.

Taken once per day in a pill form, this newly-approved treatment works by inhibiting proteins in cancer cells, thereby preventing the cells from dividing and growing.

Ribociclib has been available through the CDF since 2019, while more evidence was collected to address uncertainties around how much it extends overall survival and its cost-effectiveness.

The new evidence showed that, compared to fulvestrant alone, people taking the combination drug treatment had longer before their disease worsened and also lived longer.

The treatment could be an option for up to 3,300 women.

Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive and director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “Treatments that can postpone disease progression are important because they can mean some people can avoid the often unpleasant side-effects of chemotherapy, and delay the need for its use in others.

“We are pleased therefore that our original decision to make ribociclib available through the CDF not only gave people access to it earlier than would otherwise have been possible, but has now, through the data collected during that time, allowed us to recommend it for routine use on the NHS.”

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