A new take-it-at-home pill, said to prolong the lives of patients with lung cancer, was launched today - but it will not be available on the NHS in Northern Ireland until 2007.
Tarceva is believed to increase one-year survival by nearly half for patients with the disease - Ulster’s biggest killer.
Research-based healthcare group Roche, which launched the drug today, described the treatment as “revolutionary”
It said it has been proven to reduce the debilitating symptoms of lung cancer, such as breathlessness, pain and cough, with fewer serious or life-threatening side-effects than standard chemotherapy.
However, NHS patients in Northern Ireland will not be able to get the drug until 2007 when it is anticipated the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) will review the treatment.
In the meantime, it is available through three private healthcare insurers, BUPA, AXA PPP and Standard Life.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD