New rare cancer drugs get Scottish NHS go-ahead

THE NHS in Scotland has been given the go-ahead to use three new medicines to treat rare forms of cancer.

The new drugs will help doctors treat rare forms of cancer. Picture: PA
The new drugs will help doctors treat rare forms of cancer. Picture: PA

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has just approved seven drugs for use by the health service.

This includes three cancer treatments, all of which were accepted as part of the SMC’s patient and clinician engagement process, which aims to improve access to medicines for patients nearing the end of their life and those with very rare conditions.

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Patients with a particular type of lung cancer who have already had chemotherapy will now be able to be treated with nintedanib, which doctors say can increase life expectancy and quality of life.

The drug ponatinib has been approved for those suffering from certain rare and aggressive forms of leukaemia, and can help them live longer and with a better quality of life.

Meanwhile patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours which can not be removed or which have spread to other parts of the body can be treated with the drug regorafenib, which is said to offer hope to sufferers when the disease is advanced and who have no other treatment option available.

SMC chairman Professor Jonathan Fox said: “We are pleased to be able to accept these new medicines, which include three medicines considered under the new Pace (Patient and Clinician Engagement) process for medicines used for end of life or very rare conditions, with one being an ‘ultra-orphan’ medicine for an extremely rare condition. This brings the number of medicines accepted under Pace to 13, with five not recommended.

“SMC worked closely with patient groups and clinicians to develop PACE and their input to the process has been valuable in helping the Committee reach its decisions. Thanks to their willingness to work with us on PACE and participate in meetings, and the Committee’s commitment to our new processes, patients are beginning to see the benefits of increased access to effective new medicines.”