Taking the pertuzumab campaign to the Scottish parliament
Thursday 28th June
Under an unusually hot Edinburgh sun, we headed this morning to the Scottish parliament armed with placards and petition signatures. Over 5,000 of us are calling on the government to use a Crown use licence for breast cancer drug pertuzumab (brand name Perjeta) - today we took these calls to the people who can make it happen.
The Just Treatment petition, led by patient leader Dunise and supported by Global Justice Now Scotland, demands that the Scottish government introduce a Crown use licence to overturn drug company Roche’s monopoly on pertuzumab and bring down the price.
At over £40,000 per patient per year, pertuzumab is currently unavailable on the NHS in Scotland. This means that patients like Dunise are unable to access this important and effective breast cancer drug... unless they choose to live outside the country. Pertuzumab could benefit hundreds of women a year in Scotland - but Roche’s high prices are preventing patients from accessing it.
Despite a cabinet reshuffle the previous day, new health minister Clare Haughey came to meet Just Treatment patient leaders and Global Justice Now (pictured left) and to receive the petition on behalf of the new health secretary. As Dunise, who is currently based in London, was unable to join, we read a statement from her to the minister (you can read it in full here):
“I made the very difficult decision to stay in London and receive all the treatments offered to me, and I am STILL on this drug over 3.5 years later – yes YEARS. I am not a statistic, I prove that women can have years on this drug, and a very good quality of life at the same time.”
Patient leaders Fiona and Esme (pictured above with Just Treatment organiser Wiz) stressed the need for the government to consider a Crown use licence for pertuzumab, in the event that Roche do not offer a fair and affordable price in their new submission to the Scottish Medicines Consortium. They passionately invoked the need for the government to not only find a resolution to the situation with pertuzumab, but to ensure that future drugs would be made available quickly at a fair price.
We hope that Roche and the SMC are able to come to an agreement as quickly as possible, as every day that goes by more patients are denied access to this drug. But we also want to government to be ready to act should a deal for pertuzumab not be reached. The government should be ready to use the powers it has available to bring the price down for both this and future drugs - a Crown use licence is too powerful a tool not to be used.
If you’d like to keep in touch and hear more about Just Treatment and this campaign, just sign up here: justtreatment.org/dunise