Medicines for bladder cancer, skin cancer and multiple sclerosis among five new treatments accepted for use in NHSScotland

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), which reviews newly licensed medicines, has today published advice accepting five new medicines for routine use by NHSScotland.

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) was accepted for the treatment of advanced bladder cancer following consideration through SMC’s Patient and Clinician Engagement (PACE) process for medicines used to treat very rare and end of life conditions. Participants at the PACE meeting spoke of the poor prognosis for patients with the condition and how current treatment options often have serious side effects. Pembrolizumab is better tolerated and may improve both survival and quality of life.

Cladribine (Mavenclad) was accepted for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) in patients whose condition is highly active. In MS, inflammation damages the protective sheath around the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord which leads to disability and neurological impairment. Cladribine has the potential to reduce the rate of MS relapse. As a short course of oral tablets, it may be a more manageable therapy option compared to current infusion or injection treatments. Many factors can influence an individual’s preference for treatment so cladribine will be a useful addition to the range of options available in Scotland.

5-aminolaevulinic acid hydrochloride (Ameluz) was accepted for use in the treatment of basal cell carcinoma (a low grade type of skin cancer) unsuitable for surgical removal. This treatment is a gel that is applied to the affected area and activated with photodynamic therapy, a red light source which is shone directly on to the skin.

Tofacitinib (Xeljanz) was accepted for the treatment of severe rheumatoid arthritis in adults who have not responded to or are intolerant of other current treatments. As an oral treatment, tofacitinib offers an effective treatment as an alternative to other medicines that are given by injection or infusion.

Also accepted was levonorgestrel (Kyleena), an intrauterine device which provides contraception for up to five years and may offer women greater choice of preparations.

SMC Chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said:

“We are pleased to be able to accept these medicines for use by NHSScotland."

“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.”  

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