Breakthrough treatment as NICE approves a new class of breast cancer drugs

Breast cancer drug approval

11.08.2006

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended the use of three aromatase inhibitors for early breast cancer in post-menopausal women. These treatments should be used alongside or instead of the gold standard drug tamoxifen after surgery.

The inhibitors - Arimidex (anastrozole), Femara (letrozole) and Aromasin (exemestane) “ target the natural production of the hormone strogen, responsible for the growth and recurrence of many breast cancers, to reduce the risk of tumours spreading following surgery. This announcement could benefit thousands of women with hormone receptor-positive early breast cancer.

Although final approval for use of the drugs will not be published until November, the Government has stressed that doctors are able to prescribe the drugs now.

Tamoxifen & Aromasin breast cancer drugs

Early studies by Cancer Research UK, have shown that patients who switched from tamoxifen to Aromasin halfway through treatment reduced the risk of the disease returning by a third.

Similarly a trial with Arimidex immediately after surgery showed an extra 26% cut in cancer recurrence on top of the 50% reduction provided by tamoxifen.
And Femara has also been shown to be more effective than tamoxifen in a number of studies.

Yogi Amin, Solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, has successfully represented several women fighting for the right to receive life-saving breast cancer drugs.

He commented: I am delighted that these ground-breaking cancer drugs have been approved by NICE. This decision will have a significant impact on the quality of life of many breast cancer patients. It is now in the hands of the PCTs to ensure they provide the drugs to those patients who are prescribed them by their GP.