UK move prompts push for Kadcyla in NZ

BCAC is pushing for breakthrough breast cancer drug, Kadcyla, to be publicly funded in New Zealand after a “monumental u-turn” in the UK which has seen the drug funded there.

UK authorities had refused to fund the medicine, which is used to treat people with advanced HER2- positive breast cancer, because it was too expensive.

But a deal between the pharmaceutical company, Roche, and the UK’s National Health Service has reduced the cost and means the medicine can now be offered in the public health service.  

BCAC’s chairperson Libby Burgess is now urging the New Zealand government’s drug-buying agency PHARMAC and Roche to start negotiations about the cost of Kadcyla in this country.

“Kadcyla is an innovative treatment that can give New Zealand women with advanced breast cancer more time and a better quality of life. If UK authorities can come to an acceptable deal with Roche, then we implore PHARMAC and Roche to act on behalf of New Zealanders and do the same. 

“There are women out there suffering and enduring stress and anxiety because they don’t have access to a medicine which they and their oncologists know could help them,” she says.

Kadcyla is a combination of two drugs, Herceptin and a chemotherapy drug called emtansine. It is used in women with HER2-positive tumours that have spread to other parts of the body and cannot be surgically removed.

On average, Kadclya adds an extra six months of life when compared to the previous international standard of care (Capecitabine combined with lapatinib (Tykerb)) for women with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer.

Unfortunately, in New Zealand we do not have funded access to Tykerb so Kiwi women receive only Capecitabine. Adding Tykerb to Capecitabine adds an extra three or four months of life compared with the Capecitabine-only treatment.

This means Kadcyla has the potential to offer an even greater survival benefit to New Zealand women given our current standard of treatment is lower than it was in the UK prior to this new funding.

Kadcyla has been funded in Australia since 2015 and registered in New Zealand in 2013 but not yet funded and Libby says once again New Zealand is being left behind.

“Other countries forge ahead and offer these beneficial medicines, while Kiwis are left to die earlier than they should do. 

“We need PHARMAC to act with a sense of urgency when new medicines are shown to work, as is the case with Kadcyla. Clearly, deals can be done to reduce the cost and we hope PHARMAC will now take steps to ensure Kadcyla is publicly funded in New Zealand this year,” Libby says.

6 July 2017

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