The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has today (8 July 2019) announced its decision to approve palbociclib in combination with hormone therapy fulvestrant for routine use on Scotland’s NHS.
This combination will offer a new treatment option for hundreds of patients with hormone positive, HER2 negative locally-advanced or metastatic breast cancer who have received prior hormone therapy.
Palbociclib is one of a new class of drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors, which work by targeting two crucial cell division proteins called CDK4 and CDK6. Another similar drug called abemaciclib is already available in combination with fulvestrant in Scotland for treating this patient group, and today’s decision will now see a second option made available to patients and their doctors.
For patients who have received prior hormone therapy, a major trial (PALOMA-3) has shown that giving palbociclib in combination with fulvestrant extends the time before a patient’s disease progresses (progression-free survival) by 6.6 months on average, compared to fulvestrant alone.
Palbociclib is also already available in combination with an aromatase inhibitor on Scotland’s NHS for patients with previously untreated hormone positive, HER2 negative locally-advanced or metastatic breast cancer.
Ashleigh Simpson, Policy and Campaigns Manager (Scotland) at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said:
It is fantastic news that palbociclib with fulvestrant will now be available to hundreds of Scottish patients living with metastatic breast cancer each year. Palbociclib is one of a new generation of medicines that can slow the spread of the disease, and it is a great step forward that women who have received prior hormone therapy will now also be able to benefit from it.
Compared with fulvestrant alone, this combination can offer women living with metastatic breast cancer an extra six months before their disease progresses on average, enabling them to live well for longer. This option could also help delay the need for chemotherapy, which can be so important for patients.
Palbociclib’s availability alongside similar drug abemaciclib will now help to improve patient choice in Scotland, giving women living with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer more control over their quality of life. With the two treatment options coming with different side effects, it is now vital that all patients are fully informed of the benefits and risks and are supported to make the decision that’s right for them.
Following today’s announcement, it is absolutely essential that Pfizer, NICE and NHS England now work together to enable this crucial option to be made available in England later this year and ensure routine access for patients across the whole of the UK.
Read more about our Scottish news stories