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Australian Govt Approves Herceptin Funding

Auckland, 23 August 2006

Roche New Zealand notes that both the Australian Government and the UK National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have approved funding for Herceptin for 12 months for women with early stage HER 2 positive breast cancer within the last 24 hours.

“These decisions confirm Roche’s belief that Herceptin provides a significant advance in the effective treatment of women with HER 2 positive breast cancer”, says Svend Petersen, managing director of Roche Products (New Zealand) Ltd.

In announcing the UK decision today, NICE Chief Executive Andrew Dillon said Herceptin was clearly "clinically and cost effective".

Mr Petersen says: “Herceptin is cost effective because it will allow New Zealand women diagnosed with HER 2 positive breast cancer to lead longer, more productive lives with less concern of the disease recurring”.

The same data which supported both the Australian and UK decisions were made available to PHARMAC in June. The data demonstrated a 34 per cent reduction in mortality when patients were treated with Herceptin for a 12 month period, and a 36 per cent reduction in disease recurrence, when used in the treatment of early HER 2 positive breast cancer.

“It is clear following the Australian and UK decisions, that the HERA trial provides robust clinical evidence supporting Herceptin’s effectiveness in the treatment of early breast cancer”, Mr Petersen says.

The data from the HERA trial was reviewed by the PTAC sub-committee last Thursday; however, PHARMAC is yet to publicly announce its decision from this meeting.

Mr Petersen says: “New Zealand was the first country in the world to approve Herceptin for use in early breast cancer, and we are extremely disappointed that PHARMAC has yet to arrive at a positive decision to fund Herceptin.”

**********

For an independent, expert oncology perspective, we provide the following contacts:

Dr Andy Simpson Oncologist
Dr Richard Isaacs Oncologist

About Roche Roche Products (New Zealand) Ltd is committed to providing innovative products for cancer care in New Zealand. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world’s leading research-orientated health groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche’s products and services address prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, enhancing well-being and quality of life. Roche employs some 62 000 people in more than 150 countries around the world. The company has business alliances and R&D relationships with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai, which are both members of the Roche Group.

Herceptinâ (trastuzumab) is a Prescription Medicine used to treat patients with early breast cancer and metastatic (spreading) breast cancer who have tumours with a large amount of the HER2 protein.

Tell your doctor if you have coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart failure, lung tumours or disease, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Possible unwanted effects: Common: chills, shivering, fever, nausea, vomiting, pain, stiffness, shaking, headache, dizziness, cough, skin rash, itchy skin, weakness, fatigue, abnormal or fast heart beat, insomnia, anxiety, depression, runny or blocked nose, cold/flu-like symptoms, chest infection, worsening cough, pain on urination, diarrhoea, hair loss, muscle or joint soreness. Serious: shortness of breath or breathing difficulty, severe cough, severe swelling of feet or legs, chest pain, abnormal heart beat, severe diarrhoea, feeling faint.

Ask your oncologist if Herceptin is right for you. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or if you experience side effects or would like further information, please talk to your oncologist or visit www.medsafe.govt.nz for Herceptin Consumer Medicine Information. Herceptin (150mg and 440mg vials) is a funded medicine only for patients with metastatic (spreading) breast cancer who meet pre-defined criteria. A prescription charge and normal oncologist fees may apply.

ENDS

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