Herceptin need careful evaluation of clinical effectiveness
With Herceptin, the drug claimed by its manufacture to reduce the risk of early stage breast cancer returning, hitting the headlines daily, the Green Party have urged caution to ensure that the media interest and pressure from Roche do not influence its approval. Herceptin is not licensed for use in early stage breast cancer and there are concerns about its side effects. Roche have applied for a licence and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) have agreed to fast track the review of its effectiveness (1).
Stuart Jeffery, Green Party Health spokesperson said: "Herceptin may or may not be a wonder drug. With the news that Roche has applied for a licence for its use in early stage breast cancer, we urge NICE not to bow to media or commercial pressure in their review of clinical and cost effectiveness. If it is approved and is later found not to be clinically effective, it will only be Roche's profits that benefit.
"It would be a great tragedy if this drug turned out to be another Vioxx (2), however the chances of a mistake in the assessment happening will be far less if NICE are allowed to form an impartial opinion.
"Should this drug receive NICE approval, the government must also fund its use and not expect the beleaguered NHS to try find the £100 million each year (1) that it will cost - otherwise other services will be cut."