NHS Scotland approve life-extending cancer drug

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and The Royal Hospital for Sick Kids in Glasgow. Picture: Emma Mitchell
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and The Royal Hospital for Sick Kids in Glasgow. Picture: Emma Mitchell
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A drug to help increase the life expectancy of patients with bladder cancer is among five new treatments accepted for routine use in NHS Scotland.

The other medicines include treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS), skin cancer and arthritis.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) approved pembrolizumab, also known as Keytruda, for advanced bladder cancer and cladribine, also known as Mavenclad, for relapsing forms of MS in patients whose condition is highly active.

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A treatment known as Ameluz, or 5-aminolaevulinic acid hydrochloride was accepted to treat the low-grade skin cancer basal cell carcinoma in patients where surgical removal is unsuitable.

Oral treatment tofacitinib, otherwise known as Xeljanz, was approved for treating severe rheumatoid arthritis in adults who have not responded to or are intolerant of other current treatment.

Intrauterine contraceptive levonorgestrel, also known as Kyleena, was also accepted which provides up to five years of protection.

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

“Pembrolizumab offers patients with advanced bladder cancer the potential for a better quality of life during valuable additional months with their families.

“Cladribine may reduce the risk of relapse in those with highly active MS, as well as being a more convenient treatment option.”

“For people with basal cell lesions unsuitable for surgical removal, 5-aminolaevulinic acid hydrochloride offers a treatment option with less risk of scarring.

“As an oral treatment, tofacitinib gives patients an alternative to current treatments that are given by injection or infusion.”