Pertuzumab access victory for Dunise!

When we stand together to defend patients we can win fair access for everyone

Last month saw an amazing win for Scottish breast cancer patients when the news broke that the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) announced that pertuzumab (brand name Perjeta) would be made available on the NHS in Scotland.

With Scottish patients being denied access to the life-extending breast cancer drug Just Treatment launched a campaign in April last year led by Dunise MacIver, a breast cancer patient who needs pertuzumab but couldn’t access it at home in Scotland - forcing her to stay in England where it was available.

The makers of pertuzumab, the big pharmaceutical company Roche, were refusing to offer a fair and affordable price to the NHS so our campaign called on the Scottish government to take action to secure an affordable, generic version of the medicine using a legal tool called a Crown use licence. This would mean Roche’s monopoly was put at risk instead of cancer patient’s lives.

With support from thousands of people and many MSPs, including Alison Johnstone, who raised our campaign in parliament, we urged the government to act in response to Roche’s unfair pricing. With calls for immediate action growing from lots of groups and individuals the pressure on Roche grew. With the threat of a Crown use licence looming they agreed to offer an improved, lower price to the NHS.

Following a new assessment of the cost effectiveness of Roche’s new offer the SMC concluded that the lower price meant pertuzumab could be approved for use on the NHS in Scotland for treatment of both primary and secondary breast cancer.

Campaign leader Dunise, said:

“This is an amazing result for breast cancer patients like me across the country. It’s totally wrong that our lives are put at risk whilst drug companies try to squeeze the highest possible price out of our NHS. I’m delighted the pressure of thousands of campaigners forced Roche to drop their price to a level that the NHS can afford.

“I want to thank everyone who supported our campaign - from the individuals who signed the petition to the politicians who took our demand for action to the government. When we stand together to defend patients we can win fair access for everyone.”

Diarmaid McDonald