Drug to treat ovarian cancer approved for use by NHS Scotland

A drug that treats a rare type of incurable ovarian cancer is one of five medicines newly approved for use by the NHS in Scotland.

The drug will treat a rare type of incurable ovarian cancer. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The drug will treat a rare type of incurable ovarian cancer. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Trials found that olaparib (Lynparza) extended the lives of women with the disease by an average of seven months compared to standard treatments, Cancer Research UK said.

It said the Scottish Medicines Consortium’s (SMC) approval of the drug for use within the health service offers “new hope” to some patients in Scotland.

The SMC said olaparib was considered through its Patient and Clinician Engagement (PACE) process, which is used for medicines that treat end of life and very rare conditions.

There are currently no other treatment options available for this particular form of cancer, which is often diagnosed at an advanced stage.

Gregor McNie of Cancer Research UK said: “Cancer Research UK scientists played a pivotal role in discovering and developing olaparib and it is great news that the drug will now offer new hope to some women in Scotland with advanced disease.

“We look forward to further good news on olaparib in the future, with clinical trials showing it also has potential in other types of cancer.”

Another cancer treatment given the green light for use in the NHS is nivolumab (Opdivo), for the treatment of advanced melanoma in combination with another medicine, ipilimumab.

Rates of malignant melanoma have risen by more than 30% over the past decade in Scotland.

Gill Nuttall, of Melanoma UK, said: “We are delighted that skin cancer patients in Scotland will now be able to access this innovative combination of immunotherapies for the first time.

“Advanced melanoma is an aggressive disease and the prognosis is often poor. The availability of the nivolumab plus ipilimumab combination therapy on the NHS is therefore an important new addition in the fight to extend survival.”

Other drugs approved on Monday are sofosbuvir / velpatasvir (Epclusa), used to manage the most difficult strain of hepatitis C to treat.

Migalastat (Galafold) is used to treat Fabry disease, a very rare inherited metabolic condition. Dequalinium (Fluomizin) was also accepted for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.

SMC chairman Professor Jonathan Fox said: “The committee is pleased to be able to accept these five medicines for routine use in NHS Scotland.”

The SMC committee did not accept nivolumab for the treatment of advanced renal cancer and it also rejected fampridine (Fampyra) for the improvement of walking in adult patients with multiple sclerosis.