U.K. cost agency backs drugs for preventing breast cancer

A nurse prepares a breast cancer patient before a Gama-ray test at the Cancer Centre Welfare Home and Research Institute in Kolkata March 16, 2012. (REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files)

LONDON: British women with a family history of breast cancer could be offered two drugs to try to prevent the disease under draft guidelines published by the country's healthcare cost activists.

Tamoxifen and raloxifene are already approved in the United States and other countries for preventing breast cancer in high-risk patients, but they have not so far been made available as preventative therapies in Britain.

The new proposal by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) was welcomed by patient groups on Tuesday.

"This is exciting as, even though most women do not have a significant family history of the disease, it's crucial that those who do have an array of options to help them control their risk," said Chris Askew, chief executive of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

NICE, which decides if drugs should be paid for on the state health service, has launched a consultation on the proposed new guidelines.

Tamoxifen was originally developed by AstraZeneca but has long been off patent. Raloxifene is the generic name of Eli Lilly's Evista, which also faces generic competition in Europe.





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