A drug which can extend life for patients with secondary breast cancer (where the disease has spread to other parts of the body) has been rejected by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for use on the NHS in Scotland. 

Today (12 October) the SMC announced the rejection of Afinitor (everolimus) as the drug was not considered to offer value for money.

This is the fourth secondary breast cancer drug to be rejected by the SMC since the introduction of the new Patient and Clinician Engagement (PACE) process last year.  Eribulin (Halaven) Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) and Perjeta (pertuzumab) were also not approved.

As the newest and largest breast cancer charity working in Scotland, Breast Cancer Now are very concerned about what this decision means for Scottish women with secondary breast cancer.

Mary Allison, Director for Scotland, Breast Cancer Now said:

“The SMC’s decision to reject Afinitor is yet another shattering blow to women across Scotland who are living with incurable breast cancer.

“When it comes to accessing high cost, innovative medicines for secondary breast cancer, the system is failing women in Scotland.  We are extremely concerned that all four drugs for secondary breast cancer that have been through the new process have been rejected. This is unacceptable.

“Pharmaceutical companies need to get around the table with politicians to make more drugs available for women with secondary breast cancer now.

“The First Minister said she is open to ideas to strengthen the system and we will take her up on that offer.  We want to work together with both the UK and Scottish Governments to find a sustainable solution that gives women the hope of extra quality time with their loved ones.”

Sam Kenny, aged 36 from Aberdeen is living with secondary breast cancer.  After an initial diagnosis in November 2014, Sam was told three months later that the breast cancer had already spread to her spine and pelvis.  She has been treated with three different types of chemotherapy, alongside radiotherapy, and she will return to her oncologist in November to assess if the cancer is stable.

Access to breast cancer medicines is an issue that is very important to Sam as she wants to ensure that women like her have the opportunity to receive drugs that will give them extra valuable time.

Sam said, “I know that the drugs recently rejected by the SMC may not personally benefit me but this isn’t just about my personal circumstance. I want to urge drug companies and politicians to find a solution that will give hope and opportunity to women with secondary breast cancer across Scotland. 

“It’s only through chemotherapy drugs that I’m still here but I’ve not yet found a treatment that is working for me so I need the hope that new medicines bring.  If a drug exists that will give me precious time with my friends and family then it’s vital that I can access it.  I have an 18-year-old son and I’ve accepted that I might not get to see the big milestones in his life but I want to be there for him for as long as possible. 

“Women like me deserve extra time to live and give more love – you can’t put a price on that.”

Further information

For more information or to request an interview Mary Allison or Sam Kenny please contact Nicola Armstrong in the press team on 0131 226 0769 or nicola.armstrong@breastcancernow.org