New results from a major clinical trial testing the breakthrough breast cancer drug, Perjeta, show that it helped women with early HER-2 Positive breast cancer live longer.

Headline results from the Phase III APHINITY trial have just been released by the pharmaceutical company Roche.

They show that women with HER-2 Positive early breast cancer who were given Perjeta plus Herceptin and chemotherapy after surgery to remove the tumour experienced a “statistically significant reduction” in the risk of the disease recurring or death, compared with those who received Herceptin and chemotherapy alone.

The researchers have not yet released the full results of the trial and plan to do so at the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in June.

BCAC chairperson Libby Burgess has greeted the news with cautious optimism.

“We obviously need to wait for the detailed trial results to get an accurate picture of how well Perjeta is working for women with early HER-2 Positive breast cancer, but these headline results are certainly promising and provide further confirmation that Perjeta is an extremely effective treatment for women with this aggressive type of disease,” she says.

The New Zealand government’s drug-buying agency, PHARMAC, announced last year that it would publicly fund Perjeta for women with advanced HER-2 Positive breast cancer who had not already received Herceptin as part of their treatment regime.

BCAC and the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation have jointly petitioned PHARMAC to also fund the drug for the nearly 200 women who have already received Herceptin.

“There is clearly a growing body of evidence to show that Perjeta is a successful treatment for women with HER-2 Positive breast cancer and we’re hopeful that PHARMAC will provide access to women who desperately need effective new and innovative treatments,” Libby says.

Roche is speaking with the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency about the latest results.


About Perjeta

Perjeta is a medicine that targets the HER2 receptor, a protein found on the outside of many normal cells and in high quantities on the outside of cancer cells in HER2-positive cancers. Perjeta is designed specifically to prevent the HER2 receptor from pairing (or ‘dimerising’) with other HER receptors (EGFR/HER1, HER3 and HER4) on the surface of cells, a process that is believed to play a role in tumour growth and survival. Binding of Perjeta to HER2 may also signal the body’s immune system to destroy the cancer cells. The mechanisms of action of Perjeta and Herceptin are believed to complement each other, as both bind to the HER2 receptor, but to different places. The combination of Perjeta and Herceptin is thought to provide a more comprehensive, dual blockade of HER signalling pathways, thus preventing tumour cell growth and survival.

7 March 2017

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