Thousands of women with previously untreatable breast cancer have been given new hope after health officials approved two new “breakthrough” drugs for NHS use.In new draft guidance, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has approved palbociclib and ribociclib for widespread use in the health service in England.The drugs have been shown to slow down advanced cancer for at least 10 months and can delay the need for chemotherapy – giving women the chance to live a normal life for longer.

The two drugs work in a similar way and are a brand new class of cancer treatment, the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, said.It said the development of the drugs was one of the “most important breakthroughs” for women with advanced cancer in the last two decades.The new agreement from Nice comes after it negotiated price deals for the medication.

It had previously rejected palbociclib because its cost was too high in relation to its clinical effectiveness.In new draft guidance, Nice said that women with oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer who were diagnosed after the disease had begun to spread will be eligible for palbociclib – also known as Ibrance and manufactured by Pfizer.

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