Long awaited breast cancer drug finally got “yes”
After three years of negotiations, Norwegian authorities have given the green light to the much talked about breast cancer drug, Kadcyla.
For the eighth time, the drug company Roche lowered the price of life-extending medicine in the hope that the authorities would buy it. The Decision Forum for new Methods Tuesday announced that they have said yes to that the drug can be introduced for treatment in Norway.
How much the state has to pay for the drug is not known.
– I am very pleased that we can now finally offer this medicine in our public hospitals, for the benefit of the patients, says Lars Vorland, chairman of the forum.
The drug may be used after the patient has attempted other treatment first. It can be offered patients with a certain type of breast cancer (HER2 positive) that can not be operated or has spread. About one hundred women a year will be offered the treatment.
There has been a lot of publicity in the media about the process around the drug for a long time. A number of other European countries have long offered the drug in treatment, such as Sweden, Denmark and England.
Patients with this type of breast cancer can not get well, but Kadcyla, which contains the active substance trastuzumab emtansine, has shown effect and can help prolong life. On average, it is expected that the patient will live a half year longer.
This is the fourth time the decision-making forum considered the drug. In the past, Kadcyla received a “no” because it was thought that the price was too high compared to the effect.
Vorland is critical of how the drug company has acted in this case.
– This drug has a very high price, just as with more and more medicines. In this case we find that the manufacturer has wanted to get as high a price as possible and that in our eyes they have tested the limits for how much hospitals are willing to pay, Vorland says.
He points to a development where hospitals are offered medicines at a price that is not in proportion to the actual costs the pharmaceutical industry has in developing the drugs.
– When the entire pharmaceutical industry requires secret prices, the public does not get to know how much we actually pay. Then we do not get a good public debate about what hospitals should prioritize spending their money on, Vorland says.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today