Breakthrough as NHS Scotland approves use of new drugs to treat breast cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma

An NHS Scotland advisory body has approved the use of new drugs to treat breast cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has accepted two new treatments for the illnesses after review through its patient and clinician engagement process.

Ribociclib (Kisqali) was approved for advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women, while pembrolizumab (Keytruda) was accepted for advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma in patients who have failed to respond to previous treatments.

Dr Alan MacDonald, chairman of the SMC committee, said: “I am pleased we were able to accept these medicines for use by NHS Scotland.

“Ribociclib offers patients with advanced breast cancer the potential for valuable additional time with their families and may delay the need for chemotherapy treatment for some patients.

“For those with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, pembrolizumab offers the potential for some patients to go on to receive curative treatments and a longer remission from disease for others.”

Angela Harris, head of Breast Cancer Care Scotland, said: “This tremendous decision now brings people living with incurable breast cancer in Scotland onto an even footing with those in England.

“Ribociclib is an exciting milestone in treating this devastating disease, so it’s only right that access has been granted across the UK.

“When combined with other drugs, this innovative treatment can freeze the cancer’s growth for two years, giving vital extra time to hundreds of people in Scotland.

“And as Ribociclib often has fewer side effects, it offers the chance to live normal daily life for longer – from continuing work to making precious memories with friends and family.”

Meanwhile, the committee rejected the use of atezolizumab (Tecentriq) for advanced bladder cancer in patients unable to receive the current preferred treatment for this stage of the disease.

This was due to “uncertainties in the evidence” submitted by the company about the benefits of the medicine.

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