Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now said:
“It’s fantastic news that olaparib, which is a ground-breaking and potentially life-saving treatment for certain people with primary breast cancer, has now been approved for use on the NHS. Today’s landmark deal follows an agonising wait since a devastating provisional rejection last November.
“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. Sadly, some people with high-risk, HER2 negative primary breast cancer with an altered BRCA gene – often known as the ’Jolie gene’, may see their cancer return following treatment.
“Crucially, olaparib can reduce the risk of people’s cancer returning or progressing to incurable secondary breast cancer and stop people dying from this devastating disease.
“Our utmost gratitude goes out to the 70,000 people who supported our campaign and ensured AstraZeneca, NHS England and NICE worked together to find a solution for the treatment to be made available. Together, we’ve given these patients the chance to receive the best possible treatment and crucially the hope of a future free from breast cancer."
“We encourage patients to speak to their clinical team about their treatment options and they can also speak to our expert nurses by calling our free, confidential Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”
Notes to editor
*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.
** 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.