By Sarah Boseley – The Guardian (UK Edition).
Medics and campaigners call on UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to act after NHS decides Kadcyla treatment is too expensive
The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been challenged by a coalition of cancer patients, clinicians and campaigners to effectively tear up the patent on a breast cancer drug that has been dropped from the NHS because of its cost and allow the import or manufacture of a cheap generic copy.
The radical demand is reminiscent of what happened with Aids drugs in the early 2000s. The cocktail of antiretroviral medicines that now keeps millions of people with HIV alive was unaffordable in the developing world until a legal loophole was found enabling generics companies in India to make cheap copies.
The drug, Kadcyla, known generically as T-DM1, will not be available to new patients with advanced breast cancer from November on the NHS, although those already on it will be able to continue getting it.
It has been turned down for NHS use by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice). Recently NHS England dropped it from the list that the Cancer Drugs Fund – set up to pay for drugs Nice rejected – is willing to reimburse.