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Breast Cancer Now responds to 'life-saving’ decision to approve olaparib for use on the NHS in Scotland

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“This approval is a ‘life-saving’ decision – olaparib’s (Lynparza) availability on the NHS in Scotland crucially could save more lives from breast cancer.[1] 

“The ground-breaking drug offers vital hope to people with high-risk HER2 negative primary breast cancer and an altered BRCA gene, reducing the risk of their cancer returning or progressing to incurable secondary breast cancer.[2] Fundamentally, this treatment could stop people dying from this devastating disease. 

“Today’s news means olaparib is now available to eligible primary breast cancer patients across the whole of the UK – giving even more people the hope of a future free from breast cancer.  

“Patients can speak to their clinical team about treatment options and can also call our expert nurses for information and support on our helpline: 0808 800 6000.” 


Notes to editors

  1. Olaparib is licensed as a monotherapy or in combination with endocrine (hormone) therapy for the adjuvant (after surgery) treatment of patients with germline BRCA1/2 mutations, who have HER2 negative (so either triple negative or hormone receptor positive), high risk primary breast cancer which has been previously treated with neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy. 

    Olaparib is a PARP inhibitor which is a type of targeted therapy. PARP inhibitors have been developed to treat cancers with changes in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

    This treatment was approved by NICE for use on the NHS in England in April 2023. It’s also now available in Wales and Northern Ireland.

  2. Around 5-10% of women with breast cancer carry an inherited altered gene - of which the BRCA 1 and 2 genes are the most common. 

    Breast Cancer Now-funded researchers contributed to the discovery of a targeted use for PARP inhibitors. The charity receives a share of royalties from the Institute of Cancer Research for sales of PARP inhibitor drugs being used in a targeted way to treat cancers with changes in BRCA genes, or other similar defects which mean that cancer cells are unable to properly repair their DNA. 

    This includes royalties from sales of olaparib by AstraZeneca and Merck. Income raised through the royalties/payments for PARP inhibitor drugs is invested back into the charity, so that Breast Cancer Now can continue to fund world-class research and life-changing support for everyone affected by breast cancer. 

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