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Last week, Breast Cancer Now was invited to give evidence to the Health and Social Care Select Committee’s inquiry on cancer services.
Philippa Hetherington, a patient advocate involved in our It’s Time for Trodelvy campaign, and our CEO, Baroness Delyth Morgan, both spoke to the Committee about the need for innovative, clinically-effective treatments to reach patients as quickly as possible and highlighted challenges with access to a promising new treatment, Trodelvy.
Here’s a summary of what was discussed and the impact we hope the session will have.
The inquiry was set up by the Health and Social Care Select Committee in July to examine what measures England can take to improve cancer outcomes. It was launched after studies showed that progress in England was lagging behind other countries with comparable health systems on cancer survival.
Our session focused on the question of whether patients are able to access the latest drugs and treatments.
As part of the inquiry, we also submitted written evidence, which you can read in full on the parliament website.
Through our evidence, we highlighted how important it is that research and innovations reach and benefit patients on the NHS as quickly as possible. This is vital if we are going to improve cancer outcomes.
Unfortunately, we know that this doesn’t always happen, which means patients can experience delays in accessing the treatments they need, like with promising new drug Trodelvy, which could offer women living with triple negative secondary breast cancer the hope of extra months to live.
In this instance, Gilead, who owns Trodelvy, has failed to reach an agreement with NHS England to provide the drug free-of-charge to eligible patients following licensing, ahead of a decision on routine NHS access in spring 2022.
We’ve been campaigning to urge the company to do the right thing so that all eligible women have guaranteed access and, at the time of writing, over 215,000 people have signed our petition.
As part of her testimony, Philippa, who also appeared in a recent video letter to Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day, said that access to Trodelvy would be 'absolutely huge… As I mentioned, triple negative secondary breast cancer is the kind of breast cancer that has the worst prognosis - by quite a long way. It is considerably worse.'
As part of her evidence, Delyth highlighted the need for change so that treatments reached patients as quickly as possible. She told the Committee, 'We also need to make sure, as a country, that our regulatory processes are as aligned and as tight as they possibly can be, so that patients can access exciting and innovative treatments as quickly as possible.'
The Health and Social Care Select Committee will produce a report with recommendations, combining the evidence submitted orally from participants in their sessions and written evidence submitted to the inquiry, which will require an official government response. We will keep you updated about the report and its recommendations.
Thousands of people have already signed our petition to help make Trodelvy accessible to those who need it, but we still need help. If you would like to find out more about our It’s Time for Trodelvy Campaign and how you can get involved, please visit our campaign page.