In new draft guidance, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today approved the drug, along with palbociclib, for widespread use in the NHS for the first time.
Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), was one of only two hospitals in the UK to trial ribociclib as part of the international study MONALESSA-2. The trial was conducted at 294 sites globally and involved 668 patients – only four of which were from the UK, and two being from Cornwall.
Dr Duncan Wheatley, the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s cancer specialist and cancer speciality lead for the NIHR in the South West, said: “This is amazing news and goes to show what a collaborative effort between patients, researchers, pharma companies and NICE can do to bring innovative new treatments to patients with breast cancer.
“Today’s news really is a significant clinical advance for women living in the UK with previously untreatable breast cancer and I am incredibly proud of the team who had first-hand experience of using ribociclib in the MONALEESA-2 trial. It is all down to trials like this that we are able to advance treatments for our patients.
“We have many ongoing studies looking at both drugs to further evaluate their use in early and late stage breast cancer, with the Royal Cornwall Hospital being the leading UK recruiter in several of these studies.”
There are around 45,000 new diagnoses of breast cancer each year in England and it is estimated that around 8,000 of these people would be eligible for treatment with either palbociclib or ribociclib.
The treatments are designed to help women with oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancer, where the growth of tumours is fuelled by the hormone oestrogen – about two-thirds of cases of breast cancer. Patients who were diagnosed with this kind of cancer after it had begun to spread to other parts of the body will be eligible for palbociclib – also known as Ibrance and manufactured by Pfizer.
Women who meet these criteria, and who have also undergone the menopause, will be eligible for ribociclib – also known as Kisqali, created by Novartis.
Both drugs are given as a tablet once-daily alongside an aromatase inhibitor, a type of anti-cancer drug that works by blocking the production of oestrogen, stopping the hormone’s ability to stimulate some breast cancers to grow.