New breast cancer drugs promise to extend normal life, delay chemotherapy

The drugs, containing palbociclib and ribociclib, will ensure that cancer sufferers can live a normal life for as long as possible.

Cancer awareness
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Two new drugs for breast cancer have been approved by the National Health Service (NHS) in England, which are said to delay advanced cancer for at least 10 months and also reduce dependence on chemotherapy. The approval comes as a ray of hope for thousands of breast cancer patients.

The drugs, containing palbociclib and ribociclib, will ensure that cancer sufferers can live a normal life for as long as possible. They are to be taken once every day and in combination with an aromatase inhibitor, which works by preventing the production of female hormone oestrogen, thereby reducing the probability of cancer. Both of them inhibit proteins called CDK 4 and 6, which slows down the occurrence and symptoms of cancer.

The approval came after one of the two drugs was previously rejected by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) due to its high cost. After negotiating price deals, the drug is now available via the NHS.

"This is a life-changing and long-awaited step forward in treatment for many patients with metastatic breast cancer, potentially offering thousands of women the closest thing they would have to a cure in their lifetime," says Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at the charity Breast Cancer Now, as reported by BBC.

"Their introduction to NHS care in England is fantastic news for patients and their doctors. Around 8,000 women each year can now be given significant extra time before their condition progresses - time that will be truly invaluable to them and their loved ones," she added.

This development is being considered one of the "most important breakthroughs" in two decades, which will reach out to about 8,000 women every year in England. It will provide the basic requirement of a cancer patient: to delay the attack of the disease so that they can spend more time with their family, says Professor Carole Longson of Nice.

"We are pleased therefore that the companies have been able to agree reductions to the price of palbociclib and ribociclib to allow them to be made routinely available to people with this type of breast cancer," she said.

Women who have already been diagnosed with oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer can use the drug palbociclib, developed by Pfizer, whereas menopausal women with the said conditions are eligible for Novartis' ribociclib.

A cycle of palbociclib, containing 21 capsules, costs 2950 pounds, which is the same as a cycle of ribociclib, containing 63 capsules. However, discounts will be applied to the listed price.

As of now, the medication will be available only for patients in England's NHS but it may soon reach Wales as well.