A UK health watchdog has published draft guidance that proposes to advise the National Health Service that GlaskoSmithKline’s Tyverb and Roche’s Herceptin should not be prescribed to certain postmenopausal breast cancer patients.

In its second draft guidance the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said the extent to which these drugs, when used alongside hormone therapy, can improve overall survival in patients whose breast cancer has spread elsewhere in the body is unclear.

Most postmenopausal breast cancer patients with this type of cancer are likely to be offered Herceptin (trastuzumab) or Tyverb (lapatinib) as first line options alongside aromatase inhibitors only when chemotherapy is deemed unsuitable.

It is unclear, however, how many women this would be relevant to, NICE said in a statement.

This second consultation draft comes after Roche appealed against some of the committee’s initial findings last year.

NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said, "Having reviewed the available evidence, our committee of experts has found that while both lapatinib and trastuzumab can reduce the growth and further spread of metastatic breast cancer tumours when taken alongside the aromatase inhibitors letrozole and anastrozole, the extent that these treatments can improve overall survival appears to be small or undefined.

"Furthermore, independent economic analyses indicate that both treatment combinations do not appear to be cost-effective for the NHS because they have uncertain clinical benefits for the price that the NHS is being asked to pay," he added.