Herceptin use gains draft NICE approval

Herceptin (trastuzumab) should be given to all eligible women on the NHS, according to a draft NICE technology appraisal issued last week.

The appraisal document was published just two weeks after the European Commission licensed the drug for use in early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer. The final NICE appraisal is due out early next month.

A one-year course of trast-uzumab is recommended after surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy among women with HER2-positive tumours, who represent a fifth of breast cancer patients. Only those with cardiovascular problems should not receive trastuzumab, said NICE.

But there are concerns that facilities have yet to be put in place to identify patients with early HER2-positive cancer.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said the announcement 'should ensure all women for whom Herceptin is a suitable treatment will receive it'.

'But this will only be the case if women are sure they can be tested to see if Herceptin is suitable for them. Nationwide, HER2 testing is being put in place and all women diagnosed with breast cancer need to know this test will be available,' he said.

Dr Kate Law, head of clinical trials at Cancer Research UK, said: 'NICE appraised Herceptin in record time and we hope it will be able to apply the same processes to other important drugs.'

NICE technology appraisal

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