Mens Health | Womens Health News

Friday, October 21, 2005

Good Medicine

BBC ImageBBC Medical Science -- The drug Herceptin cuts the risk of tumours returning in women with early stage breast cancer by 50%, a US study has shown. A second study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed Herceptin can also reduce cancer recurrence when combined with a chemotherapy drug. A leading cancer expert called the studies' findings "stunning". But they will increase pressure on regulators to make Herceptin available for early as well as advanced cancers. Herceptin, which also has the generic name traztuzumab, targets a protein called HER2, which appears to be over-abundant in some women's breast cancers. An estimated fifth of breast cancer cases - around 10,000 women in the UK - are HER2 positive. Roche, which makes Herceptin, has to submit an application to European regulators before the drug can be licensed for use in early-stage disease. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence then has to give its approval for the drug to be prescribed on the NHS. The government has said this process should be fast-tracked. But it is likely to be next spring before Herceptin goes through all these regulatory hoops. Until then, it will be up to primary care trusts to decide if they will fund the treatment for women, which can cost £30,000 a year. On Tuesday, PCTs in Devon and Cornwall announced they would fund the treatment, and last month Barbara Clark won her battle to persuade Somerset PCT to pay for her to have the drug. (10/19/05)


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