Breast Cancer Now has called for reform of the way medicines are considered in Scotland to make sure that the right decision can be taken first time.
The call comes after everolimus (Afinitor) gained approval from the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for use on the NHS after being considered twice under the latest system - causing a 6 month delay for patients.
Everolimus (Afinitor), which can delay the need for chemotherapy by up to six months for patients with secondary breast cancer (where the disease has spread to other parts of the body), boosts the effectiveness of hormone treatment (aromatase inhibitor) by blocking a certain protein that is associated with cancer cell growth.
As part of a package of proposals for reform, the charity called for a negotiation mechanism to be introduced in the process to allow more robust discussions with drug companies to secure the best deal for patients and the NHS.
They also suggest that more flexible decision-making as well as the involvement of patients and relevant expert clinicians at the final decision making meeting could make a significant contribution to unlocking new treatments for patients in Scotland.
The suggestions will be submitted to the independent review into the way drugs are assessed for use on the NHS in Scotland, which is being led by Dr Brian Montgomery.
Mary Allison, Director for Scotland at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“Breast Cancer Now welcomes the fact that women with secondary breast cancer in Scotland will now have more treatment options. However, we should have got to this point much earlier in the process.
“This is a treatment that has been considered twice under the latest SMC system. This means that patients have been waiting longer to get access to this drug.
“Women with incurable secondary breast cancer don’t have time to wait. That’s why we need to reform how we assess new drugs in Scotland to make sure drug companies and the SMC come up with the best deal and make the right decision first time around.
“We have clear plans to help achieve this and hope that the review that is underway on the issue will help get the best system to unlock drugs for women with secondary breast cancer in Scotland.”