Roche’s ‘smart bomb’ Kadcyla launched in UK

New breast cancer drug Kadcyla has been launched in the UK, and will be immediately available to patients.

Roche UK said the drug would be available in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) or via individual patient treatment and funding requests in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) was approved in Europe in September, but is only now being launched in the UK. Patients in England will not face any further delays in receiving the treatment – NHS England’s committee recently cleared the drug for listing on the CDF list. A spokesperson for Roche UK said this put the drug in a ‘unique position’ as most newly launched cancer drugs must wait a further two weeks or so before they are added to the CDF list.

Kadcyla is a new therapy for advanced HER2-positive breast cancer and uses a so-called ‘smart bomb’ technology to hit its target more accurately.

The medicine is an antibody drug conjugate, in which Roche’s Herceptin molecule (trastuzumab) is linked with ImmunoGen’s chemotherapy DM1 (emtansine) molecule. This means that the chemotherapy is delivered only to the cancer cells, and not healthy cells, sparing patients unnecessary side-effects and boosting the therapy’s efficacy.

The new drug is indicated for HER2-positive patients with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer (mBC) who have already received trastuzumab and a taxane, separately or in combination. This puts it into direct competition with GSK’s Tyverb in combination with capecitabine.

Kadcyla is administered intravenously once every three weeks, which is likely to be seen as more convenient than the Tyverb (daily pill) plus capecitabine, a twice daily pill.

Data from the phase III EMILIA study showed the product can deliver improved rates of overall survival, while resulting in fewer severe side effects compared to Tyverb (lapatinib) and capecitabine.

Paul Ellis, professor of cancer medicine at King’s College London, said: “Kadcyla represents a new way of targeting HER2-positive breast cancer, which ultimately means that we could extend patients’ lives compared to existing chemotherapy treatment.”

NICE and the Scottish Medicines Consortium are now reviewing Kadcyla, with NICE due to give its verdict in August.

Kadcyla is likely to work out as being around double the cost of the Tyverb + capecitabine combination, which risks a rejection from NICE. Roche will point to the fact that the new drug includes the cost of chemotherapy, saves time and expensive in administration, and improves outcomes for patients.



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