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NHS offered life-saving drug, a ray of hope for several women

by Rishika Choudhury

Date & Time: Nov 10, 2022 8:00 PM

Read Time: 1 minute

With a new immunotherapy drug, the National Health Service (NHS) of England has recently offered a ray of hope to several women battling a deadly form of breast cancer. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved the drug, pembrolizumab, for use in up to 1600 women per year - and it is said that the drug can make tumours 'disappear.' Pembrolizumab will now be used to treat triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease that affects people aged 40 and younger disproportionately.

According to trials, the drug reduces the chances of the disease progressing by almost two-fifths when used with chemotherapy. Pembrolizumab might also help cancer disappear before surgery which can save women from the need for invasive operations.

How drug function in the body

The drug is injected into the bloodstream via a drip to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells. The drugs target proteins on the surface of immune cells, putting a stop to their debilitating effects. The treatment became available on the NHS on November 8th. The health body also stated that it has reached a confidential discount agreement with the drug's manufacturer, MSD, to fund the drug immediately at a listed price of £91,000 per patient.

The new breast cancer drug will only be given to patients who are at the highest risk and who doctors believe are best-suited based on the factors that determine whether or not a patient is fit for treatment.

“This is a hugely significant moment for women — the NHS has struck a new deal to roll out a potentially life-saving drug for patients suffering with the most aggressive form of breast cancer that has been traditionally very difficult to treat. It is fantastic news for around 1,600 women across the country each year who have either been diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer or will be in the coming years — it will give hope to those who are diagnosed, and prevent cancer from progressing, allowing people to live normal, healthy, lives,” said chief executive of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard.

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