Pfizer, while awaiting NHS decision on what has been described as one of the most important advances in treating breast cancer in the past 20 years, has decided to make palbociclib available free of charge in UK.
The drug in combination with letrozole increased progression-free survival for about 10 months in comparison with existing treatments.
Fiona Hazell, director of policy and engagement at the charity Breast Cancer Now, after praising the initiative, said anyone who thought they might be eligible should speak to their doctor, but also urged Nice to reach agreement with Pfizer on making it available on the NHS to anyone who needed it.
The ICR and Breast Cancer Now both urged Pfizer to reduce the price to allow it to be offered on the NHS. Nice said at the time that a full course of treatment would cost £79,560 and the benefits were “still not enough to make palbociclib cost effective at its current price”.
The free programme is expected to be open for a maximum of five months – closing six weeks after Nice issues final guidance on the drug, however Pfizer said women who took up the offer would receive the full duration of treatment.
A spokeswoman for the company said: “Pfizer believes women with metastatic breast cancer deserve access as soon as possible to this innovative medicine that has been shown to significantly increase progression-free survival”