25 May 2022

Responding, Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

"Today's approval of pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in combination with chemotherapy (paclitaxel or nab-paclitaxel) for use on the NHS, is absolutely fantastic news for around 100 patients with incurable secondary triple negative breast cancer.*

 “Following its worrying provisional rejection by NICE earlier this year, the reversal of this decision now brings hope to eligible women for whom it could bring precious additional time before their disease progresses and more months to live and spend time with loved ones and doing what matters most to them. 

 “Triple negative breast cancer is a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, often with poorer outcomes. Whilst immunotherapy treatment atezolizumab was made available on the NHS in 2020, there has remained an unmet need for a group of patients who could not receive this combination,* which is why it is so vital that alternative treatments, such as pembrolizumab, quickly reach those still desperately in need of new, effective treatment options.

 “Despite this positive news, we now also desperately need to see progress on the NICE appraisal of Trodelvy which is another potentially life-extending drug for certain people with secondary breast cancer, that was devastatingly provisionally rejected in April. A recent delay to the second NICE committee meeting has caused further anxiety for these patients, which is unacceptable. Together, Gilead, NICE and NHS England must find a solution to ensure this drug is made routinely available on the NHS.

 "We encourage women to discuss their breast cancer treatment options with their healthcare team. They can also speak to our expert nurses by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000."

 ENDS 

NTE

*For treating certain patients with secondary triple negative, locally recurrent unresectable or secondary breast cancer in patients whose tumours express PD-L1 with a combined positive score of 10 or more and who have not had prior chemotherapy for their secondary breast cancer.

*Each treatment option includes a different measurement of PD-L1 expression and there are some instances in which only 1 measurement would show PD-L1 positivity and when the results of both measures would not overlap. Therefore, today’s news means if someone is negative using the test associated with atezolizumab, they will now be tested to see if pembrolizumab could be an option, opening the door for more patients to receive an effective immunotherapy combination.