Date Published: 10 November 2005

NHS Confederation comment on Herceptin

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Nigel Edwards, Director of Policy at the NHS Confederation which represents more than 90% of UK National Health Service (NHS) organisations, said:

" Today's timely editorial from The Lancet concerning the ongoing debate about Herceptin highlights the need to maintain a clear and transparent process to ensure that new drugs are both safe and effective.

_ Processes to both license new drugs and approve them for use in the NHS have been put in place to protect patients and so primary care trusts must be able to feel confident that these processes will be followed at all times.

_ As The Lancet points out in its editorial, 'drug regulatory agencies and bodies such as NICE play an important role in translating research evidence into clinical guidance . . . it is vital that their decisions are made carefully after considering the totality of available evidence'.

_ PCTs now find themselves placed under huge public pressure if they do not prescribe Herceptin for use in early stage breast cancer on the grounds of safety and cost-effectiveness, as has happened in a well-publicised case this week."

The Lancet editorial states:

" The best that can be said about Herceptin's efficacy and safety for the treatment of early breast cancer is that the available evidence is insufficient to make reliable judgements."

Nigel Edwards added:

" We are concerned that primary care trusts are being put in an almost impossible position by growing pressure to bypass systems established to protect patients. We hope that The Lancet editorial will prove to be a timely intervention."

Source(s): The NHS Confederation, UK

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