Drugs to treat asthma and migraines approved in Scotland

The Scottish Medical Consortium gave the green light for four new medicines to be used in Scotland.

Drugs to treat asthma and migraines approved in Scotland IStockPhoto

Four new medicines have been approved for use by NHS Scotland for severe asthma, migraines, heart failure and bone marrow cancer.

The treatments were given the green light by the Scottish Medical Consortium (SMC), which also gave provisional approval to a medication for a severe kind of muscular dystrophy.

They include the drug isatuximab to treat multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.

Clinicians told a panel of experts how patients can suffer debilitating symptoms including recurrent infections, anaemia, fatigue and severe bone pain and fractures.

The drug increases “progression free survival” – the amount of time during and after treatment a patient lives with the disease but it does not get worse.

Another medication authorised is dupilumab, an extra treatment for some people with asthma so severe it can require intensive therapies causing toxic side effects like bone-weakening osteoporosis and diabetes.

Asthma UK said it was “great news for Scotland” but that it wants “nationwide access to this potentially life-changing drug for the rest of the UK”.

Maggie Smith, 39, from Arbroath, said she has suffered major side effects with other treatments and is hopeful dupilumab will work for her.

She said: “My youngest children are five and six and it’s hard doing things with them. Even the school run can be a challenge and we are often late as I need to keep stopping for my inhaler.

“Any improvement on that would be a blessing.”

Dapagliflozin was approved for treating heart failure in patients who have symptoms of the disease and have less blood leaving the heart than their body needs.

This drug “may help reduce breathlessness and fatigue, improving their quality of life and potentially lowering the risk of early death”, said the SMC.

Migraine sufferers, who have at least four days of attacks per month, can now access galcanezumab, which may improve quality of life, it added.

The Migraine Trust welcomed the announcement, saying it was one of the first preventative medicines dedicated to treating the “painful and debilitating condition”.

It was approved for use in England last year and is available on the NHS in Wales and Northern Ireland, it added.

But the charity warned “many eligible patients in Scotland” are currently struggling to access two other medications in the same group, which are called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) therapies.

Separately, ataluren, a drug used to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare, progressive, muscle-wasting condition affecting mainly boys, was accepted on a three-year trial scheme in NHS Scotland called the ultra-orphan pathway.

“Following this, SMC will review the evidence and make a decision on routine availability in NHS Scotland”, a statement said.

SMC Chairman Mark MacGregor said:“ The committee is pleased to be able to accept these four medicines for use by NHS Scotland.”

“We know that our decision on isatuxumab will provide a valued additional treatment option for those with multiple myeloma.”

“For patients with severe asthma with type 2 inflammation, our decision on dupilumab offers an alternative to current treatment options.”

“Our decision on dapagliflozin offers the possibility of lowering the risk of early death and an improved quality of life for patients with heart failure.”

“Galcanezumab offers another treatment option which may help improve symptoms and quality of life for those affected by regular migraines.”

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