New cancer and cholesterol treatments to be available on NHS

New treatments for blood cancer, skin cancer and high cholesterol will soon be available on the NHS, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has ruled.

The new treatments will be made available on the NHS. Picture: Neil Hanna
The new treatments will be made available on the NHS. Picture: Neil Hanna

SMC officials have, though, rejected a drug for severe emphysema as they decided its benefits would not justify the cost to the health service.

Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) – used to treat a rare and incurable form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) – has been approved under SMC’s patient and clinician engagement (Pace) process for very rare and end-of-life conditions.

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Ibrutinib has been shown to delay progression of the disease and to offer patients a potential improvement in quality of life, SMC said.

Melanoma drug Nivolumab (Opdivo) has also been approved for its ability to delay the progression of skin cancer, which disproportionately affects young adults who may have dependants.

Antibiotic Levofloxacin (Quinsair), which treats infections in adults who have cystic fibrosis; Alirocumab (Praluent), which treats high cholesterol; and Secukinumab (Cosentyx), used for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory joint disorder associated with skin disease psoriasis, were also approved.

Adult diabetes drug insulin degludec (Tresiba) was also accepted.

SMC committee chairman Professor Jonathan Fox said: “The advice on ibrutinib will be welcomed by patients and clinicians alike.

“There is also a need for additional treatments for melanoma, particularly those that can delay progression of the disease, and we hope nivolumab will be a useful treatment option.

“We know from what patients have told us that levofloxacin nebuliser solution will be a useful alternative treatment option for some cystic fibrosis patients with hard-to-treat infections.

“Alirocumab belongs to a new class of medicines that lower cholesterol and is expected to benefit patients who cannot be managed effectively with current treatments.

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“It is disappointing that we were unable to accept human alpha-1 proteinase inhibitor for severe emphysema but the committee was not satisfied that the company’s evidence on the medicine’s long-term benefits would justify the cost to the NHS.”

“We know this decision is difficult for patients and carers, but when making decisions the committee has to consider not only the patients that will be treated with that medicine, but every patient who needs treatment by NHS Scotland.”

Professor Jeff Evans, director of the Institute of Cancer Sciences and professor of translational cancer research at Glasgow University of Glasgow, welcomed the approval of Nivolumab.

“Nivolumab has demonstrated its potential to increase survival rates in this devastating disease,” he said.