New ovarian cancer medicine approved for use by NHS Scotland

The approval of a new drug to treat ovarian cancer in Scotland has been welcomed by campaigners.
Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian CancerAnnwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer
Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has accepted niraparib (Zejula) for use by NHS Scotland for advanced ovarian cancer.

It is said to be the first maintenance treatment for patients with ovarian cancer who do not have the BRCA mutation - an alteration in a particular gene that increases the chance of developing ovarian cancer.

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Patient groups and clinicians highlighted how patients currently undergo gruelling rounds of chemotherapy with increasingly shorter times between relapses, but Niraparib was shown to extend the period of relapse-free time until the next chemotherapy treatment.

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Figures show 39 per cent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer survive for five years or more but campaigners say niraparib could help patients, who have few treatment options, survive longer.

Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “Today’s announcement is a game changer in ovarian cancer, and shows that Scotland is leading the way in access to new ovarian cancer drugs.

“With niraparib, we’re taking the fight to ovarian cancer. We know that with the right investment in new treatments, more women can and will survive this disease. Today is a critical first step in making that a reality.”

Alectinib (Alecensa) has also been accepted for the treatment of a rare type of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The SMC said the medicine increases the time to disease progression compared with existing therapy.

SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said: “The committee is pleased to be able to accept these medicines for use by NHS Scotland.

“Through the evidence given by Pace (Patient and Clinician Engagement) participants, we know that our decision on niraparib for ovarian cancer will be welcomed, particularly as it provides the first maintenance treatment for patients without the BRCA mutation.

“For those with a specific type of NSCLC, alectinib can help delay the time to the progression of the disease, giving patients more opportunity to continue leading a normal life.”