Organisations like Breast Cancer Now work to help support people with breast cancer and to campaign for patients to have access to the drugs that they need and I support that important work.
In December 2016, NICE decided that the price of Kadcyla was too high in relation to the benefits it gives for it to be recommended for routine commissioning in the NHS. This decision was deeply disappointing for many patients and their families. A related online petition has been signed by more than 41,000 people, which demonstrates the strength of feeling on this issue.
NICE has held a consultation of its draft guidance and is expected to make a decision in February, with final guidance being published in March. Kadcyla will continue to be available through the Cancer Drugs Fund while the NICE appraisal is ongoing.
The introduction of the Cancer Drugs Fund has helped to bring life-extending treatments to thousands of patients every year. There is no doubt that it has improved access to medicines and I welcome some of the historic issues relating to treatment access that it has helped to address.
However, it was meant to be a temporary fix and is no longer sustainable. I believe the Conservative Government must bring forward a long-term solution to ensure patients can get fair and swift access to new cancer medicines.
On Thursday 26 January there will be a debate in the House of Commons on access to Kadcyla and other breast cancer drugs. A colleague of mine in the Shadow Health team will respond to the debate for Labour and I will follow the debate closely.