Tens of thousands of cancer patients in Britain are denied life-extending drugs, all because of EU bureaucracy. The wonder drug for women with breast cancer got thumbs up at the world’s largest cancer conference in Chicago. Trial results that were presented there showed that the drug palbociclib almost doubled the amount of time that the disease was stalled. This means that the disease did not spread during the time.
Since March, nearly 30,000 women in the US have been able to access it after Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fast-tracked the approval following the trials. The drug that is in trials has shown that the terminally ill women were able to fend off the disease for an extra 10 months on an average; it has not been approved for use in Europe yet. Thanks to the laid-back attitude of the European regulators.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Now, said – “We’re talking an average of ten months but it could be more. It could mean seeing the birth of your grandchild, being around to see your children graduate.”
This drug is seen as a ground-breaking treatment in the field of breast cancer, but has not yet been approved by Europe. Charities fear that even if it finally gets a licence, the NHS is likely to refuse to fund it on grounds of cost as it will cost around £7,000 a month.
The drug, which is expected to benefit nearly 25,000 British women a year, is not getting clearance from last one year and insider information indicates that it could take another 18 months. As Britain is a member of EU, all rulings on drug approval are taken by European regulators.
Gisela Stuart, a former Labour health minister and chairman of Vote Leave launched an excoriating attack on the impact of EU regulations saying – “The bureaucratic and sclerotic nature of Brussels is failing thousands of women across Europe by delaying access to life-extending drugs”.
Drug firm Pfizer has applied for a licence in August 2015, so palbociclib under the trade name Ibrance could be used across Europe. This drug is especially useful for women with oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer and would benefit around 25,000 in the UK who are usually treated with 20p-a- day inhibitor drugs.