On 26th January 2017, I attended a back bench business debate in Parliament about the provisional decision not to provide the breast cancer drug Kadcyla for use in the NHS. The debate called for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and pharmaceutical company Roche to re-assess the decision and ensure Kadcyla is kept available for patients.
I spoke briefly to represent patients in Wycombe:
I congratulate the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh) on securing the debate. Like other hon. Members, I am here today to represent my constituents’ concerns. I should say from the off that I join the cause to make Kadcyla more available.
When my staff and I were discussing the correspondence about the debate and particular constituency cases, we quickly agreed that this is the worst sort of correspondence that we receive—when people are terminally ill but unable to access the medicines that they need. The subject is particularly acute—I do not think that I am the first Member to struggle to keep a quaver out of my voice—because my mother-in-law died of secondary cancer. These things will stay with us all. None of us can know what ladies who are currently suffering from these diseases are going through, but when we have seen it at second hand, we all want to live in a world where the NHS does not have to practise any rationing.
I want to focus on that point because, as the hon. Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham) said, the problem is intractable. I know about some of the great difficulties in bringing forward Abiraterone to help men, in a similar set of circumstances, suffering from prostate cancer. In a sense, I sympathise with the Minister and with NICE because they have an extremely difficult task. While it is easy for all of us to say that of course Kadcyla should be freely available to all those who need it without restriction, I am well aware that the problem is long-standing and applies to many innovative pharmaceuticals.
I also appreciate that it is no comfort whatever to sufferers of various cancers to know that a profit-making pharmaceutical system has a far better record of innovation than the alternative planned systems. I wish the Minister every success in her crucial task of working out how to ensure that innovative medicines come forward at a lower cost and a greater rate.
Draft updated NICE guidance on Kadcyla has been published for consultation and NICE’s final guidance is expected in March 2017. Kadcyla will continue to be available through the Cancer Drugs Fund while the NICE appraisal continues.