A treatment for advanced breast cancer which could help patients live for longer has been approved for use on the NHS in Scotland.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) gave the green light for doctors to use trastuzumab deruxtecan, which is also known as Enhertu, to help those suffering from HER2 positive breast cancer, where the disease has spread.
The drug was granted approval after being considered as part of the SMC’s patient and clinician engagement process, which is used for medicines to treat patients with rare conditions and those at the end of life.
Trastuzumab deruxtecan is already available for use in NHS Scotland in certain circumstances, but now patients should be able to get it earlier.
New SMC chairman, Scott Muir, said: “The data for trastuzumab deruxtecan is very promising and could allow patients to live for longer, without symptoms.
“The committee is aware of how highly valued this additional time is to patients and their families.”
The SMC also approved pembrolizumab, sometimes known as Keytruda, as a treatment for people with skin cancer who have had surgery.
Its makers MSD said the drug could “reduce the chances of a patient’s skin cancer returning after surgery”.
It had previously been given to patients with a more advanced form of the disease, with its use extended to allow it to be given to patients whose cancer is at an earlier stage.
Susanna Daniels, the chief executive of charity Melanoma Focus, welcomed the decision saying: “Over 1,200 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year in Scotland.
“Fear of recurrence of cancer is also a huge emotional burden for patients and families and in particular for the growing population of melanoma patients who are diagnosed at a younger age with the majority of their life ahead of them.
“It is a mark of how far we have come in recent years that we can now improve survival and significantly reduce those fears.
“I am thrilled that the SMC have recognised the value this treatment adds for adolescent and adult patients with high-risk stage 2 melanoma by reducing the likelihood of recurrence, and that it will now be available on a routine basis in Scotland.”
Stuart Robertson, head of devolved nations at the pharmaceuticals firm MSD UK said: “Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in Scotland but is the most common for those aged 15 to 34 years of age.
“MSD is delighted that the Scottish Medicines Consortium have approved this treatment option for patients.
“This allows clinicians in Scotland to reduce the chances of a patient’s skin cancer returning after surgery which is especially important for the growing number of younger people being diagnosed who have much of their life ahead of them.”
However the SMC was unable to approve darolutamide, which is also known as Nubeqa, as a treatment for prostate cancer.
This was because of uncertainties in the clinical and cost effectiveness evidence presented, it said.
Mr Muir stated: “We could not accept darolutamide as the evidence provided was not strong enough to satisfy the committee.
“The comparison with current treatments used in NHS Scotland was associated with significant uncertainty that darolutamide would offer value for money.”
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