Hewitt fast-tracks Herceptin to save 1000 lives
Oct 8, 2005 - 5:51:38 AM
Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health, has announced that women who are diagnosed from this week onwards with early stage breast cancer will have the opportunity to be treated with the drug Herceptin. This means that the lives of around 1000 women a year will be saved the same number of lives saved by the NHS national breast cancer screening programme for roughly the same cost.
Patricia Hewitt said that from today all women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will be tested for suitability for treatment with Herceptin. As soon as Herceptin receives a licence it will be fast-tracked for use throughout the NHS.
The National Cancer Director Professor Mike Richards is meeting the medical directors of the NHS Cancer Networks on Thursday to ensure that the new testing service is ready as soon as possible.
Of the 35,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year, about 20,000 will be suitable for HER2 testing. From this group of 20,000 women, about 5,000 women may benefit from Herceptin. The drug could save around 1000 lives a year, at an annual cost of about £100 million.
Patricia Hewitt said:
Herceptin has the potential to save many womens lives and I want to see it in widespread use on the NHS. Today I am asking Professor Mike Richards to ensure that the facilities are put in place to enable women who require it to be tested. I want the licence for Herceptin to be granted as quickly as possible, without compromising peoples safety, and to be available within weeks of the licence being given.
I share the huge frustration of many women about the delays in getting Herceptin licensed. I am determined to take action, and this represents a major step forward in our fight against cancer.
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