About Kadcyla

Advances in cancer treatment have seen the development of medicines known as targeted or biological therapies which can help to slow the growth of cancer cells.

Kadcyla is a targeted therapy which has been used in the treatment of people with HER2-positive metastatic or advanced breast cancer.

Kadcyla is registered for use in New Zealand, but it is not publicly funded which means you have to pay for it.

You can find out more about Kadcyla on these pages. Kadcyla is not suitable for everyone, so it’s important that you speak with your doctor about whether this medication may be right for you.

On these pages you can learn more about:


Everything You Need to Know About Kadcyla

Download the patient information booklet here
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How Does Kadcyla Work?

Kadcyla, also known as trastuzumab emtansine, is a breast cancer treatment that combines Herceptin® (trastuzumab) with a chemotherapy medicine (emtansine) in a single treatment.

It is used in patients who have already received Herceptin for HER2-positive advanced or metastatic breast cancer. It is also used in patients whose cancer has spread within six-months of receiving treatment for early-breast cancer.


The Herceptin in the Kadcyla targets the cancer cells directly because it identifies and attacks the HER2 proteins present in the breast cancer cells. The chemotherapy medicine, emtansine, is attached to Herceptin and is delivered directly into the cancer cells in order to stop their growth and spread.

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How Can Kadcyla Help Me?

Studies have looked at how well Kadcyla works for those with HER2-positive advanced or metastatic breast cancer. This research is ongoing and there’s still a lot more to discover.

A large clinical trial, called EMILIA1, compared Kadcyla with the combined use of two other medicines, lapatinib and capecitabine, in people who had previously received treatment with Herceptin.

The EMILIA trial showed that Kadcyla improved survival outcomes for women compared to the combination of lapatinib a dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor & capecitabine, orally-administered chemotherapeutic agent.

Kadcyla helped control the growth and spread of HER2-positive advanced breast cancer



30.8% of patients treated with lapatinib and capecitabine responded to treatment.

When treated with Kadcyla, 43.6% of patients responded to treatment. Kadcyla was shown to shrink tumours in more patients compared to lapatinib and capecitabine.‘Average time to spread’ is the point in time when 50% of patients experience growth or spread of their cancer.

The results will not be the same for everyone and no one can tell you exactly how you may benefit from receiving Kadcyla. You will need to speak to your doctor about whether Kadcyla is right for you.

How is Kadcyla Given?

Kadcyla is given by intravenous (IV) infusion, meaning that it will be delivered through a needle that a nurse inserts into a vein. This usually takes place in the cancer department at a hospital or clinic, every 3 weeks. The dose of Kadcyla is calculated using a patient’s weight and therefore the dose will be different for everyone.

The number of infusions you will be given depends on how you respond to treatment.

Your First Infusion

The first infusion will be given over 90 minutes. Your doctor or nurse will then observe you for any signs or symptoms of an infusion reaction for 90 minutes after your infusion is complete.

Your Subsequent Infusions

If the first infusion was well-tolerated, your infusion time may be shortened to 30 minutes. This will usually be followed by an additional 30 minutes observation time.

The infusion may be slowed or interrupted if you experience side-effects or have an allergic reaction. Your doctor will decide on the infusion time that is right for you.

Side Effects of Kadcyla

Kadcyla helps control the growth and spread of HER2 + advanced breast cancer disease but it may have some unwanted side-effects in some people.

All medicines can have side-effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not. You may need medical treatment if you get some of the side-effects.

Ask your medical team to answer any questions you may have.

Your medical team is in the best position to help you manage any side-effects so be open with them about any symptoms you notice, whether you think they are caused by Kadcyla or not.

For a full list of Kadcyla side-effects, or if you want to find out more about Kadcyla-related side effects, please look at the Kadcyla Consumer Medicines Information. In the Consumer Medicines Information, look at:

Before you are given Kadcyla, While you are receiving Kadcyla, and Side Effects sections

How do I get Kadcyla?

Kadcyla is not publicly funded by PHARMAC which means you have to pay for this medication. This is a big decision and will obviously have an impact on you and your loved ones.

You will want to make this decision with your friends and family and you may want to explore other funding options, such as health insurance or fundraising programmes.

The exact cost of treatment depends on a number of factors and a private oncologist will need to advise you on this. You may also need to pay for your oncologist’s appointments, other treatments such as chemotherapy, and the administration of these.

If your doctor agrees that Kadcyla is right for you then it is worthwhile finding out about the Kadcyla Cost Share Programme that can assist with some of the costs of Kadcyla.

For more information on costs and cost share programmes click HERE

The cost of Kadcyla may play a big part in whether or not you decide to have this treatment. Be sure to discuss all the pros and cons with your doctor, family, and support network.

Roche’s Cost Share Programme for Kadcyla

Roche has a cost share programme to help with the cost of Kadcyla for those who need it. Find out more here.

Talking to Your Doctor About Whether Kadcyla is Right for You

Deciding whether to pay for treatment is a big decision and it’s one that requires careful thought.

Kadcyla is not a cure, but it may give you more time before your cancer grows and spreads. For many people, Kadcyla may be able to offer a few extra months and for others it may be able to offer more.

Speak with your doctor about your specific case and the pros and cons of taking Kadcyla. Remember, Kadcyla is not right for everyone and your doctor will need to ask you a number of questions to see if it’s suitable for you.

If you’re not sure how to have this discussion with your doctor, we’ve developed a list of common questions which might help you. Have a look at these here.

If you’re considering Kadcyla and you want to want to know more about private providers, you can check out a list here.

Sources of Further Information

If you’d like more information on Kadcyla, you might like to look at the following:

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Helpful questions
to ask your doctor
Kadcyla Patient Information Book
Kadcyla Patient
Information Book
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Pathology Report
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Medsafe NZ Consumer
Information for Kadcyla

Kadcyla® (trastuzumab emtansine), 100mg and 160mg vials, is a Prescription Medicine used to treat patients with metastatic (spreading) breast cancer who have tumours with a large amount of the HER2 protein. Kadcyla has risks and benefits. Ask your Oncologist if Kadcyla is right for you. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your healthcare professional. For further information on Kadcyla, please talk to your health professional or visit www.medsafe.govt.nz for Kadcyla Consumer Medicine Information. Kadcyla is not funded by PHARMAC. You will need to pay the full cost of this medicine. A prescription charge and normal oncologist fees may apply.

  1. Verma S, et al. N Engl J Med 2012;367:1783-91.