SARAH-JANE TASKER | THE AUSTRALIAN | NOVEMBER 24, 2017
Australians with breast cancer will have access to a drug from early next year that reduces the risk of the cancer returning.
The drug, Nerlynx, is targeted for use in women with HER2+ early breast cancer. One in four women diagnosed with this type of cancer can suffer a relapse in five years and it is believed that taking Nerlynx would prevent some of those recurrences.
Professor Arlene Chan, principal trial investigator for the drug, said the availability of Nerlynx in Australia was an important step in further reducing recurrence of that type of cancer. “This is a drug that provides a potential cure for some women who may otherwise have had a recurrence,” said the world renowned Perth oncologist.
The study found patients taking the drug for up to a year after finishing their standard treatment improved their likelihood of being cancer-free by up to 27 per cent, she said. “For breast cancer treatment, it is always about improving the protection against the breast cancer coming back because if you can protect the patient against it coming back, they will survive better.”
HER2+ affects from 15 per cent to 18 per cent of breast cancers. Standard treatment involves chemotherapy and treatment with another drug. Professor Chan said she hoped Nerlynx eventually would be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The drug’s marketer in Australia, Specialised Therapeutics, is seeking regulatory approval of the drug for it to be reimbursed and, if successful, it expects Nerlynx to be available on the PBS by the second half of 2019.
Chief executive Carlo Montagner said a special access program for the drug would open in Australia in the first quarter of next year, as allowed under Therapeutic Goods Administration guidelines.