'Life-saving' breast cancer drug accepted for NHS use in Scotland

Olaparib targets hereditary BRCA gene mutations in early breast cancer previously treated with chemotherapy.

‘Life-saving’ breast cancer drug Olaparib accepted for NHS use in Scotland by Scottish Medicines Consortium iStock

A treatment which could save the lives of more breast cancer patients has been accepted for use on the NHS in Scotland.

Olaparib (Lynparza) is one of a number of treatments approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) in its latest round of decisions.

It targets hereditary BRCA gene mutations in early breast cancer previously treated with chemotherapy, and has been accepted for use as a monotherapy or in combination with other therapy.

The SMC also accepted treatments for other types of cancer and for conditions including epilepsy and lupus nephritis.

Professor David Cameron, Professor of Oncology at Edinburgh University and director of cancer services at NHS Lothian, said: “Olaparib offers more hope to those women with a mutation in a BRCA gene and living with breast cancer in Scotland.

“Today’s decision by the SMC means that olaparib is now the only approved treatment specifically targeting BRCA mutations in early breast cancer (stage I-IIIA) in Scotland and has the potential to transform patient outcomes by improving survival and preventing the cancer from coming back.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at the Breast Cancer Now charity, welcomed the decision.

She said: “This approval is a ‘life-saving’ decision – olaparib’s (Lynparza) availability on the NHS in Scotland crucially could save more lives from breast cancer.

“The ground-breaking drug offers vital hope to people with high-risk HER2 negative primary breast cancer and an altered BRCA gene, reducing the risk of their cancer returning or progressing to incurable secondary breast cancer.

“Fundamentally, this treatment could stop people dying from this devastating disease.

“Today’s news means olaparib is now available to eligible primary breast cancer patients across the whole of the UK – giving even more people the hope of a future free from breast cancer.”

The SMC also accepted semaglutide (Wegovy) for weight management in adults and Atogepant (Aquipta) for preventing migraine in adults who have more than four migraine days per month.

Belzutifan (Welireg) was accepted for treating adults with Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease – a rare genetic disorder that causes tumours to grow in various parts of the body – and voclosporin (Lupkynis) was accepted for treating adult patients with lupus nephritis.

Fenfluramine (Fintepla) was accepted for use as an add-on to other anti-epileptic medicines to treat a serious, rare type of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, while maribavir (Livtencity) was accepted for treating illness caused by cytomegalovirus (CMV) in adults who have had a transplant.

A number of other medicines for treating people with cancer were also accepted.

They were brexucabtagene autoleucel (Tecartus) for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), regorafenib (Stivarga) for advanced colorectal cancer and zanubrutinib (Brukinsa) for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

Darolutamide (Nubeqa) was accepted for treating advanced prostate cancer.

Commenting on the decision, Chiara De Biase, director of support and influencing at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “I’m extremely pleased that men in Scotland can now benefit from this first-of-its-kind combination treatment which we know can give a man with advanced prostate cancer a longer life and slow the progression of his disease.”

SMC chair Dr Scott Muir said: “The committee is pleased to be able to accept these new medicines for a variety of conditions, including breast, bowel and prostate cancer.

“This has been a record-breaking month for SMC in terms of the numbers of medicines that we have been able to accept for use in the NHS in Scotland.”

However, the SMC said it was unable to accept lutetium (177Lu) vipivotide tetraxetan (Pluvicto) for the treatment of prostate cancer.

It said the company’s evidence around the clinical and cost effectiveness of the treatment compared to currently available options was not sufficient.

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