A new drug will ‘transform the lives’ of thousands of men and women after it was given the green light for breast and prostate cancer patients with the ‘Angelina Jolie gene’.
Olaparib, taken as a daily pill, targets cancers with mutations in BRCA 1 and 2 genes by stopping the cancer cells from repairing.
It had previously been rejected by NICE on cost-grounds but has now been given the go-ahead for eligible cancer patients after deal was struck between the NHS and its makers AstraZeneca.
Around 550 men with advanced prostate cancer and an estimated 300 women with an aggressive form of breast cancer, will benefit annually.
The decision has been branded ‘momentous’ by charities, many of which campaigned against the watchdog’s initial ruling that it was too expensive.
Olaparib, taken as a daily pill and s old under the brand name Lynparza, targets cancers with mutations in BRCA 1 and 2 genes by stopping the cancer cells from repairing
Olaparib, sold under the brand name Lynparza, is the first genetically targeted drug to be proven safe and effective for advanced prostate cancer in men with the genetic mutation.
Trials found it nearly doubles the time it takes for the cancer to spread when compared to existing treatments, providing patients with ‘precious extra time with their families’.
Professor Johann De Bono, cancer specialist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, who led clinical trials into the drug said its approval was ‘tremendously exciting’.
He said: ‘For patients with advanced prostate cancer and mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2, these recommendations will be life changing – giving men another treatment option and precious extra time with their families, without the debilitating side effects we see with chemotherapy.’
Similarly, trials carried out on nearly 2,000 women with early-stage breast cancer and the gene mutation found it slashed the chances of dying by nearly a third (32 per cent).
Those with an aggressive breast cancer, known as HER2 negative, can see their cancer return following treatment.
Up to ten per cent of women who get breast cancer carry an inherited altered gene, which was made famous by the Hollywood actress. Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy in 2013 after testing positive for the mutated BRCA1 gene
But tests showed olaparib is effective at keeping women with the inherited breast cancer free of disease after their initial treatment.
Up to ten per cent of women who get breast cancer carry an inherited altered gene, which was made famous by the Hollywood actress.
Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy in 2013 after testing positive for the mutated BRCA1 gene
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now , said: ‘It’s fantastic news that olaparib, which is a ground-breaking and potentially life-saving treatment for certain people with primary breast cancer, has now been approved for use on the NHS.
‘Today’s landmark deal follows an agonising wait since a devastating provisional rejection last November.
‘Crucially, olaparib can reduce the risk of people’s cancer returning or progressing to incurable secondary breast cancer and stop people dying from this devastating disease.’
Part of a class of drugs called PARP inhibitors, it works by stopping cancer cells from being able to repair their DNA by blocking a molecule called PARP, preventing them from growing and spreading while leaving healthy cells much less affected.
A two-week course had cost in the region of £2,500 for a two-week course, although terms of the deal the NHS struck a deal with the manufacturers are not known.
Usually taken as a twice daily pill, it has been available on the NHS in England and Wales for women with advanced ovarian cancer with the gene mutations and who have stopped responding to treatment since, January 2020.
Its approval for prostate cancer brings the rest of the UK in line with Scotland, which has offered the treatment since October 2021.
Professor Kristian Helin, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research whose work helped develop the treatment, London said: ‘This is a momentous development in the treatment of cancers linked to faulty BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
‘I am delighted that access to olaparib on the NHS, the first cancer drug in the world to target an inherited genetic fault, is being expanded to more patients who are in desperate need of better options.’