Targeted therapies, like Herceptin, Perjeta and Kadcyla

Advances in cancer treatment have seen the development of targeted therapies also known as monoclonal antibodies or biologics. These are medicines that specifically identify and attack cancer cells without damaging normal cells. They can be an effective form of treatment for many cancers.

These therapies are generally well-tolerated and do not have the same side-effects as chemotherapy, such as hair loss, severe nausea and vomiting and increased risk of infection.

There have been several targeted therapies developed to treat breast cancer. These include Herceptin, Perjeta, and Kadcyla. Another HER2-targeted therapy, Tykerb® (lapatinib), is also used as an alternative to Herceptin for the first-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer when Herceptin is not appropriate. Both Herceptin and Tykerb are commonly used in combination with chemotherapy. Tykerb is a registered product of Novartis New Zealand. You can find out more about the Roche therapies below.

Roche Targeted Therapies for Early Breast Cancer:

Roche Targeted Therapies for Advanced or Metastatic Breast Cancer:

Herceptin

Herceptin, also known as trastuzumab, is a treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer.

It works by attaching itself to the HER2 proteins on the cancer cells and blocks these cells from receiving growth signals. By doing this it can help to slow or stop the growth of the tumour.

Herceptin

Herceptin is funded in New Zealand for 12 months for women with early breast cancer and this is the recognised international standard of care.

A number of large international studies have demonstrated that 12 months of Herceptin reduced the risk of cancer returning compared to standard chemotherapy and offers women with HER2-positive early breast cancer the best chance of survival.5,6

Herceptin is not right for everyone and everyone will have different responses to this medicine.

All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not.

Speak to your medical professional to see if Herceptin could be right for you.

Find out more about Herceptin in early breast cancer, including how it works, the benefits and the side-effects here.

Herceptin for Advanced Breast Cancer

Herceptin is also used to treat advanced or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer.

It works by attaching itself to the HER2 proteins on the cancer cells and blocking these cells from receiving growth signals. By doing this, it can help to slow the growth of the tumour.

Herceptin is funded in New Zealand for those with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer for as long as it continues to work (or it is no longer tolerated).

Clinical trials have shown that Herceptin reduces the size of tumours and delays tumour growth in patients with metastatic breast cancer. These trials also showed that patients on Herceptin lived longer than those who did not receive treatment with Herceptin7.

Herceptin is not right for everyone and everyone will have different responses to this medicine.

All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not.

Speak to your medical professional to see if Herceptin could be right for you.

Find out more about Herceptin in advanced breast cancer, it’s benefits and it’s side-effects here.

Perjeta for Advanced Breast Cancer

Perjeta is also known as pertuzumab and is given with Herceptin and chemotherapy, in particular a medicine called docetaxel.

Perjeta works in conjunction with Herceptin and docetaxel to block cancer growth signals to slow the growth of the tumour.

Perjeta is a fully funded medicine for patients with HER2-positive metastatic Breast Cancer who meet pre-defined criteria.

A large clinical trial8 has shown that when Perjeta, Herceptin and chemotherapy were given together:

  • The spread of the cancer was delayed by an average of six months. So, on average, the time it took for the cancer to progress (spread) in those on Perjeta, Herceptin and chemotherapy was 18.7 months compared to 12.4 months for those on Herceptin and chemotherapy alone.

  • Patients receiving Perjeta, Herceptin and chemotherapy also lived on average 15.7 months longer than patients receiving only Herceptin and chemotherapy (56.5 months compared to 40.8 months). Perjeta

Perjeta is not right for everyone and everyone will have different responses to this medicine.

All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not.

Speak to your medical professional to see if Perjeta could be right for you.

Find out more about Perjeta, how it works and its side-effects here.

Kadcyla for Advanced Breast Cancer

Kadcyla, also known as trastuzumab emtansine, combines Herceptin (trastuzumab) with chemotherapy (emtansine) in a single treatment.

Kadcyla is used in patients who have already received Herceptin for advanced HER2-positive breast cancer. It is also used in patients whose cancer has spread (progressed) within six months of receiving treatment for early breast cancer. Kadcyla may also be used after Perjeta for advanced (metastatic) breast cancer.

With Kadcyla, the chemotherapy medicine is attached to Herceptin and delivered directly to the breast cancer cells with the HER2 proteins. This means the chemotherapy medicine is delivered in a very targeted way, helping to limit side-effects, and to stop the growth and spread of the cancer cells.

Kadcyla is not publicly funded in New Zealand which means you would have to pay for this medication.

A large clinical trial9 compared Kadcyla to the use of two other medicines used together, lapatinib and capecitabine, in people who had previously received treatment with Herceptin. This trial found that:

  • Patients who received Kadcyla lived without their cancer spreading for a median of 3.2 months longer than patients who received lapatinib and capecitabine (9.6 months v 6.4 months. Kadcyla
  • Kadcyla also improved the length of time patients lived by a median of 5.8 months (30.9 months for patients receiving Kadcyla compared to 25.1 months for patients receiving lapatinib plus capecitabine. Kadcyla

Kadcyla is not right for everyone and everyone will have different responses to this medicine.

All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not.

Speak to your medical professional to see if Kadcyla could be right for you.

Find out more about Kadcyla, the benefits, the side-effects and the costs here.





Herceptin® (trastuzumab), 150mg and 440mg vials, 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. Perjeta® (pertuzumab), 420mg vial and Kadcyla® (trastuzumab emtansine), 100mg and 160mg vials, are Prescription Medicines used to treat patients with metastatic (spreading) breast cancer who have tumours with a large amount of the HER2 protein. Herceptin, Perjeta and Kadcyla have risks and benefits. Ask your Oncologist if these products are right for you. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your healthcare professional. For further information on Herceptin, Perjeta or Kadcyla, please talk to your health professional or visit www.medsafe.govt.nz for Consumer Medicine Information. Herceptin is a funded medicine for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer who meet pre-defined criteria. A prescription charge and normal Doctor's fees may apply. Perjeta is a fully funded medicine for patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer who meet pre-defined criteria. A prescription charge and normal oncologist fees may apply. Kadcyla is not funded by PHARMAC. You will need to pay the full cost of this medicine. A prescription charge and normal oncologist fees may apply.

References
  1. Slamon D et al. N Engl J Med 2011; 365: 1273-83.
  2. Piccart-Gebhart MJ et al. N Engl J Med 2005; 353: 1659-72.
  3. Salmon D et al. N Engl J Med 2001; 344, 783-92.
  4. Swain S et al. N Engl J Med 2015;372:724-34.
  5. Verma S et al. N Engl J Med 2012;367:1783-91.