Six new medicines have been approved for use in NHS Scotland for illnesses including bladder cancer, a blood disorder, and arthritis.
The treatments were given the green light by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) to improve outcomes for patients suffering with hard-to-treat disorders where other drugs have failed.
They include the drug Avelumab, for an aggressive kind of bladder cancer called urothelial carcinoma, which may increase overall survival, delay cancerous growth, and prevent symptoms for longer, said the SMC.
Also accepted was Nivolumab, for oesophageal cancer affecting the gullet or food pipe, after the patient has had chemotherapy.
Patients with this debilitating condition have trouble swallowing and experience vomiting and pain with symptoms “often progressing very rapidly over just a few months” and it currently has “very limited” treatment options, said the SMC.
The news was welcomed by Cancer Research UK, which previously funded trial studies for the medicine.
“We hope that today’s approval will give patients facing this advanced form of cancer better options for treatment, as well as the chance for more precious time with loved ones,” said David Ferguson, a spokesman for the charity.
Elsewhere, one treatment for a type of white blood cell cancer was given interim approval for use “subject to ongoing evaluation and future reassessment”.
Tecartus is a type of CAR-T cell therapy that uses someone’s own immune cells, known as T-cells, to destroy cancerous ones.
It works by extracting them, then modifying them in the lab and then injecting them back into the patient, said the SMC.
It can be used to treat advanced mantle cell lymphoma when the cancer returns after two or more previous treatments.
“This treatment may provide the opportunity for a prolonged remission where the patient is able to participate in family and social activities,” said the SMC.
The medicine Avatrombopag was also accepted for sufferers of chronic immune thrombocytopenia who have not responded to previous treatment.
This is a long-term blood disorder in which the immune system destroys healthy platelets in the blood, which are needed to form clots and stop bleeding.
It offers a new treatment option “that may raise platelet levels for some patients who cannot use or who have not responded to current treatment options”, said the SMC.
Meanwhile, the drug Guselkumab was given the go-ahead for treating psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory arthritis associated with the skin condition psoriasis.
Patients can suffer with pain, swollen joints, itchy skin and fatigue as well as other mobility issues.
Finally, Inclisiran was accepted for lowering cholesterol levels in patients at high cardiovascular risk on whom standard drug therapy has not been effective.
The SMC is the national body advising on clinical benefits and cost-effectiveness of all new medicines for NHS Scotland.
Its committee makes decisions after scrutinising evidence and data and hearing from patients and clinicians with expertise in the conditions.