SOLD trial confirms effectiveness of treatment options

Media release Medicines

PHARMAC is welcoming the presentation of results from the international SOLD trial, comparing short and long duration treatment with trastuzumab (Herceptin) for early HER 2-positive breast cancer.

The results were presented this morning (5.15am NZ time) at the San Antonio breast cancer symposium in Texas.

PHARMAC Chief Executive Steffan Crausaz says the treatment decisions for each person will be better informed as a result of this research, and the funding of these treatment options is unlikely to change.

“Patients in both treatment groups did very well with similar 5-year survival rates of well over 90%,” says Steffan Crausaz.

“Although survival rates were not statistically different, the study shows that a small proportion of patients do better with the longer course because there were 2.5% fewer recurrences of breast cancer after 5 years. However, there were also more patients with heart failure that needed to be managed in the longer-term treatment.”

“This study confirms the results of earlier smaller trials which suggested that the effectiveness of a shorter course might be similar, but with reduced side effects, costs, and inconvenience for patients.”

Steffan Crausaz says PHARMAC currently funds both short and long duration courses of trastuzumab (Herceptin) and this would not be changing.

“PHARMAC is proud to have been a significant supporter of this research. This research will help patients and their cancer specialists weigh up the comparative health benefits, risks and convenience of the different approaches (3-6 infusions, compared to 17).”

The results being released are final results from a study comparing short or long duration of trastuzumab (9 weeks vs 52 weeks) at a breast cancer conference in the US. A full peer-reviewed publication of the results is anticipated. 120 of the 2176 patients were from New Zealand.

While we await the final publication of the results PHARMAC would like to acknowledge all the patients, doctors, and researchers that have participated, and especially to those from New Zealand. Of particular note is the work of Auckland-based oncologist Associate Professor Vernon Harvey, who is the New Zealand leader for the study.