The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has announced its decision to approve life-extending drug Perjeta (pertuzumab) for routine use in treating secondary breast cancer on Scotland’s NHS.

The decision follows a campaign by patients and Breast Cancer Now, calling on manufacturer Roche, the Scottish Government and the SMC to secure a deal to make the drug available in Scotland – with over 12,000 people signing the charity’s Perjeta Now petition.

Perjeta offers women with incurable HER2-positive secondary breast cancer nearly 16 extra months of life on average, compared to existing treatments. It is given to patients in combination with trastuzumab and docetaxel (a chemotherapy drug) as a first-line treatment, and works by targeting the HER2 receptors on breast cancer cells.

The drug has been the standard of care in England since 2014 via the Cancer Drugs Fund, and was approved for routine use in England, Wales and Northern Ireland early last year – but it had previously been rejected by the Scottish Medicines Consortium three times in a row.

Ashleigh Simpson, Policy and Campaigns Manager (Scotland) at Breast Cancer Now said:

We are absolutely delighted for patients that the SMC has finally been able to approve Perjeta for routine use on Scotland’s NHS. Perjeta is a truly life-changing drug and this decision will have a profound and far-reaching impact for so many Scottish women and their families.

The benefits of this drug are extraordinary, offering women with incurable secondary breast cancer over four and a half years to live on average – nearly 16 precious extra months with their loved ones compared to existing treatments.

We would like to thank every one of the 12,203 people who signed the Perjeta Now petition – you have helped ensure that hundreds of women with incurable breast cancer can be given more time to live.

We are thrilled that the SMC, Roche and the Scottish Government have put patients first and worked together to ensure that women in Scotland can routinely access this life-extending drug.

Today marks the end of a long wait for fair and equal access for Scottish patients. Going forward, the SMC, the Scottish Government and the industry must do all they can to ensure that highly-effective drugs like this can be made available to patients at prices the NHS can afford as soon as possible.

Breast Cancer Now campaigner and mum-of-two Jen Hardy, 51 from Edinburgh, is living with HER2-positive secondary breast cancer. Despite its availability in England, she was denied Perjeta following her diagnosis in October 2017. Jen said:

Today we’ve made huge progress for the treatment of women with HER2-positive breast cancer in Scotland.

I’m absolutely delighted that women living with incurable breast cancer will no longer miss out on an effective treatment that can give them extra time with their loved ones.  This is an amazing achievement.

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that signed the Perjeta Now petition.  You have helped to make a huge difference for women with secondary breast cancer in Scotland.

Alison Tait, 49 from Edinburgh, is a single parent living with HER 2-positive secondary breast cancer, which is incurable. Since her diagnosis in 2016, Alison has been able to receive Perjeta privately through her medical insurance. Alison said:

Today’s decision is a long-overdue victory for women with secondary breast cancer in Scotland.

I have been fortunate to be able to access Perjeta through private medical insurance, so I know just how invaluable this drug is. Perjeta has given me the chance to be a part of some of the big milestones in my daughter’s life as I’ve proudly watched her graduate school and pass her driving test. More importantly it’s allowed me to simply live the life I love and to create moments with family and friends that I will always cherish.

I am delighted that other women and their families will now be able to experience the benefits of Perjeta.

Suzanne Hickling, 55 from Hampshire, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. When she first heard the news that her breast cancer had spread in 2016, she immediately wanted to move to Scotland to be near her son, his partner and two young grandchildren. 

But with the drug that could extend her life, Perjeta, not routinely available in Scotland, she was unable to join her family as she began her treatment, and is now only able to see them a couple of times a year. Suzanne said

I’m absolutely thrilled with the SMC’s decision and I’m proud to have been part of a campaign that helped make this happen.

For me and my family, routine access to Perjeta in Scotland means the option of spending more time together – this means the world to me.

Thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign and helped make this life-changing drug available in Scotland.