This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Perjeta or Pertuzumab approved by the FDA in 2012 as a cancer drug in the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

Pharmaceutical company Roche has clinched European approval for its breast cancer drug Perjeta, fuelling the company’s hopes that the drug will become the standard of care for an aggressive, incurable form of the disease.

Roche aims to combine Perjeta with its older drug Herceptin, the company’s second-biggest seller, for women with a form of cancer known as HER2-positive, which makes up about a quarter of all breast cancers and has no cure.

The U.S. health regulators approved the drug last June and Perjeta won initial backing from European authorities in December.

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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Herceptin was launched in 1999 and is applicable to about 20 per cent of women with breast cancer. Mount Vernon Cancer Centre consultant oncologist, Dr David Miles said: "Perjeta has been shown to extend survival and control cancer for longer than the current standard of care – showing a magnitude of benefit that has not been seen since the launch of Herceptin more than ten years ago".


In 2017, the cancer drug was approved to be used in combination with Herceptin (Trastuzumab) during chemotherapy as a treatment for HER2-positive early breast cancer (EBC) at high risk of recurrence. The approval was based on results from the Phase III APHINITY study which showed the results of reduced in the risk of recurrence or death of the overall study group by 18% when Perjeta is used with Herceptin during chemotherapy compared to using Herceptin and chemotherapy alone.

Perjeta works in conjunction with Herceptin and cuts the odds of dying within three years by a third. Some HER-2 cancers manage to block the action of Herceptin and Perjeta gets round this. It thus lengthens the time cancer stopped progressing from 12.4 to 18.5 months.

However, the drug costs nearly £35,000 for a year’s supply and NICE has not yet (May 2013) decided to formally approve the drug. For the time being, it can be obtained within the Government’s Special Drugs Fund.

Common side effects: 

Results have shown that more than 30% of patients using the medication in combination with Trastuzumab and Docetaxel for metastatic breast, neoadjuvant treatment of breast cancer can give common side effects including diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, neutropenia etc.  


  • Used during pregnancy as it can result in harming the fetal (embryo-fetal toxicity) 
  • Infusion-related reactions
  • Hypersensitivity reactions 

Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects

Other articles that you may find interesting are:

  1. A diet for Chemotherapy
  2. Immunotherapy overview
  3. A to Z Guide to Complementary Therapies

Go to: Return to the CANCERactive drug list

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