NICE backs Herceptin

June 14, 2006

Two weeks after Herceptin was licensed by regulatory authorities for use in early breast cancer, NICE has issued draft guidance recommending the drug for women with early state HER2-positive breast cancer, except where there are concerns about the woman's cardiac function.

Two weeks after Herceptin was licensed by regulatory authorities for use in early breast cancer, the UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued draft guidance recommending the drug for women with early stage HER2-positive breast cancer, except where there are concerns about the woman's cardiac function.

Once final guidance is published in July, there will be a 3-month grace period for its implementation and anyone failing to offer Herceptin to eligible patients may face legal proceedings. NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon said that the treatment is clinically- and cost-effective in the early stage of the disease.

Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a monoclonal antibody that targets breast cancer cells. According to Cancer Research UK, 15–25% of breast cancer patients are likely to respond to treatment with Herceptin. The treatment blocks the cancer cells' ability to grow, and increases the effect of chemotherapy drugs on breast cancer cells.

More than 5000 women in the UK are eligible for treatment by Herceptin. However, at an estimated £100 million a year, the UK National Health Service (NHS) Confederation has warned that cutbacks elsewhere may be necessary.

www.nice.org.uk