Repurposed Drug to Halve Breast Cancer Risk

Repurposed Drug to Halve Breast Cancer Risk
LLB (Hons) Nimish Patel
Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) Nimish Patel Updated: In: Medical Negligence

289,000 women who face a risk of breast cancer have been offered risk-reducing medication through the NHS. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has granted a new license to Anastrozole. This medication has been employed in the treatment of breast cancer, for the purpose of preventing the disease.

Breast cancer remains to be the most prevalent cancer in England. Around 47,000 individuals are diagnosed annually. However, thanks to advancements in screening, treatment, and care, alongside NHS awareness campaigns, more women are surviving the disease than ever before. With 80% of those diagnosed with breast cancer are post-menopausal, it is hoped that this preventative drug will make a drastic impact by preventing the disease.

Preventing 2,000 Breast Cancer Cases in England

This repurposing of Anastrozole, aims to prevent approximately 2,000 breast cancer cases in England. Clinical trials show that Anastrozole can reduce the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women by nearly 50%.

Anastrozole Launched by Medicines Repurposing Programme

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) initially recommended Anastrozole as a preventive option in 2017. However, its usage for breast cancer prevention was limited due to its unlicensed status. Thanks to the innovative Medicines Repurposing Programme, launched by NHS England, the MHRA has now authorised Anastrozole as a preventive choice for women at an elevated risk. This includes those with a substantial family history of the disease.

289,000 Women to Qualify for Anastrozole

Approximately 289,000 women at moderate or high risk of breast cancer could qualify for this medication. If a quarter of these individuals choose to take it, an estimated 2,000 breast cancer cases could potentially be averted. This would lead to substantial cost savings of around £15 million for the NHS.

Comments from Nimish Patel, Medical Negligence Solicitor

“It is amazing that we are finding ways for existing medicines to help thousands of women to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer particularly as the drug is targeting oestrogen in post menopausal women. It accompanies the development of Abemaciclib in June last year which was designed to help women who have had breast cancer reduce the risk of the cancer returning or spreading to other parts of their body by 30% and the increase of  screening for women under the age of 35 who were identified as being at risk.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer  being diagnosed in the Uk , affecting  56,000 women each year in the UK and claiming the lives of 11,500 as well as affecting the families of those who are diagnosed.”

“The more women who can be screened and assisted in a positive way to reduce the risk of it occurring in the first place is a huge step in the battle to fight this awful disease.”

“Anastrozole is the first product of the pioneering Medicines Repurposing Programme, under which a consortium of key health bodies are examining the potential of existing drugs to be used for different purposes. When that approach was adopted during the pandemic, it led to tocilizumab, an arthritis drug, and dexamethasone, a steroid, being deployed as treatments for Covid-19.”

Sparing Surgical Biopsies

“Meanwhile, women with vaginal bleeding who may have womb cancer could in the future be spared having a potentially painful surgical biopsy thanks to a new test developed by a leading expert in women’s cancer. The WID-qEC test, developed by Prof Martin Widschwendter of University College London, is more accurate than imaging at ruling out womb cancer. It could save 90% of women who are undergoing or have just been through the menopause from having a biopsy to diagnose the disease or rule it out, according to the results of research co-funded by the charity Eve Appeal and published in the Lancet Oncology.”

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