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Scottish mums’ campaign for cancer drug wins victory

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The Scottish Medicines Consortium agreed to license a life-extending cancer drug after bowing to the pressure from a group of mums with breastcancer

Charities and campaigners in Scotland have welcomed a decision to approve a revolutionary breast cancer drug for NHS use north of the border.

It comes after four Scots mums living with secondary breast cancer led a campaign – alongside charity Breast Cancer Now – to unlock the drug.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has today announced its landmark decision to make Kadcyla routinely available.

The drug has been shown to extend life by an extra six months on average for those who have been diagnosed with incurable secondary breast cancer compared to existing treatments, with some women said to be able to live on it for years.

Over 13,000 people signed a petition which was presented to the SMC and drug manufacturer Roche.

Mary Allison, Breast Cancer Now’s director for Scotland said: “This decision will transform treatment options for women with HER2 positive secondary breast cancer in Scotland.

“I’d like to thank everyone who supported the Unlock Kadcyla petition, but most of all the four inspirational women who were the driving force behind the campaign.

“Both the Scottish Government and Breast Cancer Now share the same vision of making sure that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live.

“If we are to achieve this, we’ll need to ensure that patients in Scotland are able to access the best possible treatments – and today is a real step forward for women with HER2 positive disease.”

The four women, all mothers, who launched the petition were Lesley Stephen and Alison Tait, both from Edinburgh, Anne MacLean-Chang from Larbert and Lesley Graham from Glasgow. They said the decision would give them and others more time with their families.

Lesley Stephen campaigned after she was refused the drug, forcing her to fund treatment herself.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with the decision. Most importantly it means that no one will have to fight against bureaucracy or spend their life savings to get this drug.

“This is a huge win for women with secondary breast cancer in Scotland and I’m proud to have been part of a campaign to make this happen.”

Alison Tait added: “I’m not thinking about me today. I’m thinking about my daughter Ellen. I’m glad that this drug, and the extra time it gives, will be available to all women who need it. For my family it means that Ellen and I have the best chance of sharing those big life moments together – that we can share more of life.”

It is estimated that over 100 women in Scotland could now benefit from Kadcyla every year.

Scotland will now join 18 other countries that already offer patients the drug including the US, Canada, Australia, France and Germany.

However, thousands of women across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are still awaiting a decision on whether it will be made routinely available across the rest of the UK.

Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK’s senior public affairs manager in Scotland, said: “We’re pleased that SMC has recommended Kadcyla. It’s great news that this life extending drug will be made available for some breast cancer patients in Scotland.

“SMC does a difficult but necessary job to assess whether new cancer drugs should be made available on the NHS.”