A recent paper in the Lancet published yesterday has confirmed that a class of drugs called Bisphosphonates(BP) when given early to breast cancer patients can prevent breast cancer recurrence in the bone and improve breast cancer survival, but only in women who were postmenopausal when treatment began.
HOPE for breastcancer patients then? YES and NO! Currently BPs are only allowed (licenced) to be used once cancer has been detected in the bone- not before as was done in the trials analysed in this recent paper. Why? Because of silly rules and the fact that the drug companies wont make any money from a change in the licence!
The University of Sheffield’s Prof Coleman recently told BBC reporters
“The access issue is an important one. It would be a great shame if the systems we have to work with prove to be a block.
“Normally the problem is we can’t afford [a new drug] but this is peanuts, it’s that there isn’t a mechanism for this and there needs to be.”
In the same online news story
Lady Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said: “We believe that this is one of the most important steps forward in breast cancer treatment since the introduction of Herceptin over 10 years ago, but this time we’re talking about a few pence rather than thousands of pounds, and millions saved by the NHS.
“However, despite costing less than five pence a day per patient, this treatment runs the risk of ‘sitting on the shelf’, and not realising its full benefit for the 34,000 [post-menopausal] women who could be eligible to take it each year.”
The full scientific article is available via the Lancet here.
The BBC online report is here.
Breast Cancer Now is the largest UK breast cancer charity