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NHS England agrees commercial deals for breast and prostate cancer drug

NHS England has agreed a commercial deal to immediately roll out a targeted therapy for breast and advanced prostate cancer.

NHS England has agreed a commercial deal to immediately roll out a targeted therapy for breast and advanced prostate cancer, offering both sets of patients a vital new option to treat their cancer.

The drug, olaparib (Lynparza), targets cancers with mutations in the BRCA genes, and works by stopping cancer cells from being able to repair their DNA by blocking a molecule called PARP, which causes the cancerous cells to die. Around 550 men with advanced prostate cancer, and 300 women with HER2-negative early breast cancer who are at high risk of the disease returning, will be eligible for this new drug each year in England.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “It’s fantastic news that olaparib, which is a ground-breaking and potentially life-saving treatment for certain people with primary breast cancer, has now been approved for use on the NHS.

“Around 5-10% of women with breast cancer carry an inherited altered gene of which the BRCA 1 and 2 genes are the most common. Sadly, some people with high-risk, HER2 negative primary breast cancer with an altered BRCA gene – often known as the ’Jolie gene’ – may see their cancer return following treatment. Crucially, olaparib can reduce the risk of people’s cancer returning or progressing to incurable secondary breast cancer and stop people dying from this devastating disease”.

Clinical evidence for olaparib

In advanced prostate cancer that has spread to another part of the body, clinical trials have shown that olaparib, taken as a tablet daily, can extend patients’ lives by an average of six months – from 12 to 18 months – allowing them more time with their friends and loved ones.

Clinical trials in BRCA-mutant, HER2-negative early breast cancer (OlympiA) showed that giving olaparib after chemotherapy reduced the relative risk of the disease returning within four years by nearly a third (invasive disease-free survival at 4 years was 82.7% in the olaparib arm, compared to 75.4% in the placebo arm).

Each year in the UK there are more than 55,000 new cases of breast cancer, with the disease claiming the lives of around 1,500 women. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and around 52,00 people are diagnosed with it every single year in England. More than 12,000 die each year.

Chiara De Biase, Director of Support and Influencing at Prostate Cancer UK, added: “Not only is this fantastic news for men with advanced prostate cancer, but it is also a landmark moment for prostate cancer treatment.

“This is the first targeted treatment of its kind to be approved for the disease and it finally moves us away from the old ‘one size fits all’ approach to prostate cancer treatment. We’re proud of the role we played in developing this exciting drug, which stands to extend the lives of hundreds of men each year”.

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