Director for Scotland, Mary Allison, discusses the landmark decision to make the revolutionary breast cancer drug, Kadcyla, routinely available on Scotland’s NHS.

Monday 10 April 2017      Policy and campaigns blog
Scottish Kadcyla campaigners - Lesley, Alison, Anne and Lesley

Scottish Kadcyla campaigners - (left to right) Lesley, Lesley, Anne and Alison

The decision will transform treatment options for women in Scotland with HER2 positive secondary breast cancer (where the cancer has spread and is incurable). It’s the first time that Kadcyla will be widely available to patients in Scotland on the NHS.

At Breast Cancer Now we have been campaigning to unlock this drug alongside four inspirational Scots women who are living with this devastating disease. Over 13,000 people signed our petition to make Kadcyla routinely available in Scotland, which was presented to the SMC and drug manufacturer Roche.

The success of this hugely positive and progressive decision belongs to these four incredible women – Anne, Lesley, Alison and Lesley.

It’s thanks to their courage and dedication to this issue that around 118 women in Scotland could now benefit from Kadcyla in its first year. Scotland will now join 18 other countries that already offer patients Kadcyla including the US, Canada, Australia, France and Germany.

So what is Kadcyla and why are we so pleased that patients can now routinely access this drug in Scotland?

Kadcyla is a targeted treatment for women with a certain type of secondary breast cancer, HER2 positive. It’s given to patients whose condition has progressed since they first received treatment for secondary breast cancer.

The drug has been shown to extend life on average by an extra six months compared to existing treatments, with some women able to live on it for years.

HER2 positive breast cancer can be an aggressive type of breast cancer. The disease affects women in different ways, however most women face increasingly debilitating symptoms that can impact on their day-to-day life, their ability to work, social life, and on personal and family relationships.

Importantly, this is a drug that is usually very well tolerated by patients, giving them back a good quality of life - Kadcyla specifically targets cancerous cells, leaving healthy cells untouched, so it has fewer side-effects compared to other treatment options.

The potential benefits of this drug to patients who need it can’t be overstated and we’re delighted that women with HER2 positive breast cancer in Scotland will now have this treatment option.

We are pleased that the SMC and Roche have worked together to unlock this revolutionary drug. We hope this will be just the start of improved access to breast cancer medicines in Scotland.

Both the Scottish Government and Breast Cancer Now share the same vision of making sure that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live. This decision heralds a significant step towards meeting our 2050 ambition.

More information

Read the full announcement about Kadcyla in Scotland

About the author

Mary Allison, Director for Scotland, Breast Cancer Now

Mary Allison is the Director for Scotland of Breast Cancer Now, providing executive leadership across the charity’s work and presence in Scotland, addressing issues and affecting change in breast cancer prevention, early detection and diagnosis, and equality of access to treatments.