A milestone in the history of medicine: Anastrazole

Anastrazole - a drug to be taken by cancer-free women to reduce the probability of developing breast cancer.

This is a milestone in the pharmacological prevention of cancer, and we welcome the new approval of anastrozole. The new indication for the drug is for cancer-free women who have moderate to high risk for developing breast cancer, for example, have a relative who had breast cancer.

This will offer reassurance to many women at moderate to high risk of the disease. Anastrozole is an aromatase inhibitor, which works by reducing oestrogen production by the body. The regulatory authority (MHRA) weighed the benefit/risk balance very carefully and found it to be favourable for this indication.

Nevertheless, this needs to be monitored carefully long term to ensure that the benefits of the drug continue to outweigh the risks. The best pharmacoepidemiological method to monitor its use is to enrol users of the product for the new indication in a long-term product registry.

This will provide further reassurance to women of the longer-term safety and effectiveness of anastrozole past the five-year treatment course.