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NHS England has today sanctioned a faster, more comfortable method for giving Trastuzumab (Herceptin) to breast cancer patients. From the 24th September a new sub cutaneous (SC) form of the drug will be commissioned. Herceptin SC will primarily be used to treat women with early breast cancer who currently get the drug with chemotherapy before or after surgery.
Until now Herceptin has been delivered intravenously which means patients receive the drug by intravenous drip and each treatment takes between two and three hours. The revolutionary new sub cutaneous formulation Herceptin is given by an injection under the skin which takes just two to five minutes to administer. Patients will need to stay in hospital for around an hour and a half after the injection to be monitored, but it will half the time for the patient and be a considerably more comfortable treatment.
Peter Clark Chair of NHS England’s Chemotherapy Clinical Reference Group and an oncologist at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust said:
“The new subcutaneous formulation of trastuzumab will mean that women who are being treated for early breast cancer can have a much less invasive treatment than the current intravenous treatment. This will be of benefit to patients as less time is spent receiving treatment and it is a more comfortable form of receiving this drug. The faster treatment also frees up the time of highly trained cancer nurses to give care to patients on the ward.
“This innovative new form of treatment is certainly to be welcomed”.
As well as being less invasive for the patient, the new formulation of Herceptin will save time for nurses and hospital pharmacies in both its preparation and administration. This will free up specialist cancer nurses and hospital pharmacists at a time when pressure on chemotherapy facilities continue to rise.
The sub cutaneous form of Herceptin is also expected to save costs to the NHS as the drug is given as a fixed dose not dependent on patient size or weight. It minimises waste and reduces overall drug costs.