At a glance: New indication for Femara

The breast cancer drug that’s been around for a while? The very same, manufactured by Novartis. The brand name for letrozole, it has just been licenced for use in post-menopausal women after being proved to lower the incidence of recurrence in breast cancer sufferers.

How does that alter the clinical map?

Previously, breast cancer sufferers who took main treatment tamoxifen could only do so for five years. After that, the risk of taking it outweighed the benefits so nothing else was offered. Now, with the issue of a new licence in the light of fresh research, post-menopausal patients can take Femara for another three years.

So ‘new hope for sufferers’?

That’s the one. Clinical trials have shown that, for post-menopausal women taking Femara after tamoxifen, there was a 42 per cent reduction in the cancer recurring and a 39 per cent reduction in the risk of it spreading to another part of the body. Ruder Finn, which handles PR for the drug, now has the opportunity to push this message to a wide audience.

Where are the comms opportunities?

Pretty much wherever you look since the treatment of breast cancer is now a multi-disciplinary affair. In oncology, nurses are considered to be on the frontline and often have the most contact with patients. Publications for GPs and other health professionals will also be targeted via ongoing media relations, while information campaigns will aim to support patient groups.

And in consumer terms?

The target is not just sufferers, but women, their families and carers. Women’s titles are an obvious target, but managing the message, particularly in terms of the age group for which this new indication applies, will be crucial.

What has been the response so far?

Patient bodies and doctors have given Femara the thumbs-up. For example, information and support group Breast Cancer Care has said it is ‘very excited’ by the UK licence of letrozole.

And what about the competition?

None. Femara is currently the only brand on the block.

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