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BC Girls of Deal campaign to make cancer drug available on NHS

By Eleanor Perkins

A group of women from Deal who campaigned against the withdrawal of a breast cancer drug are celebrating news it will now be available on the NHS.

Kadcyla gives significant and precious extra time to women with incurable secondary breast cancer and is currently funded through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

Advisory body Nice had been reviewing drugs made available through the fund, and had rejected Kadcyla for NHS funded use because of its high £90,000 per patient per year price.

Chantele Rashbrook with her Deal BC girls

Chantele Rashbrook with her Deal BC girls

In a dramatic U-turn, a new agreement between NHS England, Nice and Roche pharmaceuticals has been announced, meaning the drug will now become routinely available on the NHS throughout England.

Chantele Rashbrook, 46, of Middle Deal Road, has secondary breast cancer and is being treated with Kadcyla every three weeks to reduce its size.

She, along with other women who attend her monthly support group, The BC Girls of Deal, had been fighting the proposals by attending committee meetings and debates with ministers, MPs and NHS representatives in The Commons, signing a petition and even appearing on BBC News.

The women also staged a Breast Cancer Now campaign in front of the Houses of Parliament in February and met with Deal and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke.

Mrs Rashbrook said: “This news is awesome.

“It just shows that someone was listening to all involved in the debate. It’s an amazing drug and it’s working for me so others should be allowed it.

“I’m now going into my third year on Kadcyla and it’s reduced the tumour on my lung to pretty much nothing.

Chantele Rashbrook from Deal. Picture Mark SydserffBreast Cancer Now

Chantele Rashbrook from Deal. Picture: Mark Sydserff/Breast Cancer Now

“A lot of women in our group could end up with secondary breast cancer. They would never have been given this chance without this decision.

“We’re over the moon with the outcome.”

Mandee Castle, of the BC Girls of Deal, said: “I’m so proud to have been part of this campaign and of the BC Girls of Deal for getting behind it 100%.

“We all live with the fear of breast cancer recurring, but this decision will help to move secondary breast cancer towards being a disease that can be managed and lived with, and not a death sentence.

“We all see Chantele living her life to all its fabulous, crazy fullness with minimal side effects. We want this to be the norm, not the exception.

“Approval of Kadcyla is a step in the right direction.”

"The thought others may be denied access to this drug is unacceptable... we shouldn't have to fight to receive the best possible care" - Kerry Rubins

Kerry Rubins, an ambassador for Breast Cancer Now, has welcomed the news but says the fight for other drugs to be made available on the NHS goes on.

She said: "Huge congratulations to Breast Cancer Now and all supporters that took part in achieving this result but the time, money and effort that had to be spent on achieving this is staggering.

"Also particularly worrying is the news that Perjeta is under threat of being removed from NHS use.

“The thought that others may be denied access to this drug, which has had a remarkable effect in some cases, is unacceptable.

"We shouldn’t have to fight to receive the best possible care.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “This is exceptionally good news.

"We are delighted that tough negotiation and flexibility by NICE and NHS England, and the willingness of Roche to compromise on price, have ensured that thousands of women with incurable breast cancer will be given precious time to live.

"We want to congratulate and thank the hundreds of thousands of supporters across the country for their relentless campaigning to ensure this crucial lifeline drug is routinely available.

“This outcome also demonstrates vital signs of life for the drug appraisal system in this country.

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke.

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke.

“Today’s decision bodes well for patients looking for reassurances that modern cancer treatments can get through to NHS patients more quickly and can bring transformational improvements in patient outcomes.

“However, this news comes at a time when there is a real possibility that Perjeta, the first-line treatment for this group of patients, could soon be removed from NHS use.

“Perjeta’s benefits are extraordinary, offering nearly 16 additional months of life to women with incurable breast cancer, and it is imperative that a solution is found to save this drug, at a cost affordable to both the NHS and the taxpayer.”

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke has welcomed the approval of a life-extending cancer drug after lobbying the NHS over the issue.

He said: “I am delighted by the outcome and there is no doubt all the pressure we piled on made a great difference. So many people were involved in this campaign.

“Time is the most important thing we have.

"If treatments work and give us more of it, money should not be an obstacle.”

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