A new treatment which can halt the spread of breast cancer for up to two years for terminally ill patients has been approved for use by the NHS in Scotland.

Campaigners welcomed the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC)'s backing for the drug palbociclib, hailing it as a "wonderful decision" and "great news" for patients.

The drug, which is taken in tablet form, can increase the amount of time sufferers have before their disease progresses, the SMC said.

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It was accepted for use by the NHS after going through the SMC's process for medicines used to treat very rare and end of life conditions.

SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said: "Palbociclib offers patients with advanced breast cancer the potential for valuable additional time with their families and may delay the need for chemotherapy treatment for some patients."

Angela Harris, the head Breast Cancer Care Scotland, said the decision would provide "equal access" for patients in Scotland for the treatment, which is already available in England.

She said: "Now women and men with incurable secondary breast cancer in Scotland will be on a level playing field to those in England in accessing palbociclib.

"This exciting treatment, when combined with another breast cancer drug, grants some respite to people living with incurable breast cancer, pausing the growth of this cruel disease for as long as two years.

"It is the difference between celebrating another Christmas with loved ones, taking a once in the lifetime trip or being there for your child's next birthday."

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Ms Harris added: "Access to the best treatments for all women and men living with incurable breast cancer should be the cornerstone of good care. We hope today's announcement is a sign we are moving in the right direction.

"And we hold out for positive news on another promising drug, ribociclib, in the new year to help ensure everyone can live as well for as long as possible with incurable breast cancer."

Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK's head of external affairs in Scotland, also welcomed the decision.

He said: "It's great news that SMC and the drug company have worked together to make palbociclib routinely available to some breast cancer patients in Scotland, where it is the most common form of the disease among women.

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"Cancer Research UK scientists played a leading role in the development of palbociclib, a type of chemotherapy that targets and blocks the proteins that help cancer cells to grow.

"The drug will now offer new hope to some women in Scotland with advanced disease or breast cancer that has spread."


Lawrence Cowan, Scotland Manager for the charity Breast Cancer Now, said: "This is a major step forward in treatment for Scottish patients, bringing to an end a long wait for new options for this type of incurable metastatic breast cancer."

He added: "Palbociclib is a transformational drug. It is the first of an exciting new generation of medicines capable of stopping a common type of secondary breast cancer in its tracks for around ten months more than existing treatments.

"For women living with incurable breast cancer, and their loved ones, this good quality time can be absolutely priceless.

"We are delighted that the SMC and Pfizer have worked together to ensure this treatment can be accessed in Scotland."

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But he also said: "There is still much more to do to ensure that the life-changing treatments available in England are unlocked for women in Scotland too.

"Perjeta has been available in England for over four years but it is still not routinely available to women with secondary breast cancer in Scotland.

"Everything must be done to make sure the best breast cancer drugs are made available to Scottish women at a price the NHS can afford.

"That means drug companies offering Scotland's NHS the best price possible and the Scottish Government implementing the recommendations of the Montgomery review of access to new medicines quickly."