Two more COVID-19 treatments available through UK-wide initiative involving SMC

Two more medicines can now be used to treat COVID-19, thanks to a UK-wide multi-agency initiative involving the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

The Research to Access Pathway for Investigational Drugs for COVID-19 (RAPID-C19) initiative is a collaboration between NHS England and NHS Improvement, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), SMC, All Wales Therapeutics and Toxicology Centre, All Wales Medicines Strategy Group and Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board.

At the beginning of this year, RAPID-C19 helped secure early access to tocilizumab and sarilumab. Following publication of the results of the large-scale UK randomised controlled trials, REMAP-CAP and RECOVERY, interim clinical commissioning policies have been circulated, covering off-label use of these medicines – meaning they can be prescribed to treat a different illness to that stated in the marketing authorisation. This allows tocilizumab or sarilumab to be prescribed for eligible hospitalised patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.

Set up in April 2020, RAPID-C19 aims to speed up access to treatments for COVID-19 where research shows there is clinical benefit and they are proven to be safe and effective. SMC horizon scanning team support NICE to produce some of the new medicine briefings for the initiative as well as monitoring and updating existing medicine briefings as clinical trial evidence is published. These are considered by the RAPID-C19 oversight group that meets weekly and has representation from SMC.

Last year, the initiative helped support early access to remdesivir, dexamethasone and hydrocortisone which are licensed for COVID-19 or are being used within existing marketing authorisations.

SMC Chief Pharmaceutical Adviser, Anne Lee said:

“The SMC team continues to have an important role in this excellent multi-agency UK-wide collaboration. It is achieving the desired objective of ensuring that patients have the earliest possible access to medicines of benefit in the treatment of COVID-19.”

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