A new cancer drug has been approved for use in Scotland, meaning some of those diagnosed with the disease will not have to undergo chemotherapy.
Venetoclax has been given the green light for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) by the Scottish Medicines Consortium after finding it may offer adults with the disease a better chance of survival when used with obinutuzumab .
It is one of six drugs approved for use by the NHS.
Dr Mike Leach, consultant haematologist at Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, said: “Following the decision by SMC to provide more CLL patients in Scotland with access to the combination therapy venetoclax plus obinutuzumab, this will mean that ‘More patients could benefit from a treatment option that can offer a deeper clinical response and prolonged remission as well as fewer chemotherapy-related side effects’.
Other accepted drugs include pembrolizumab and nivolumab, for the treatment of esophageal cancer, which stimulate the immune system to fight cancer.
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The antibiotic oritavancin has gained acceptance for the treatment of short-term bacterial skin infections such as cellulitis and MRSA, which are often resistant to standard antibiotics.
A weight management drug called liraglutide, prescribed for obese patients with other health problems related to being overweight, has also been accepted.
The last drug accepted was dapagliflozin, used to treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) in adults.
Two drugs, ropeginterferon and daratumumab, were not accepted by the SMC because they did not offer NHS value for money.
SMC chairman Mark MacGregor said: “The committee is pleased to be able to agree six drugs for use by NHS Scotland.
“Patients living with esophageal cancer often receive their diagnosis late, which has a huge impact on the patient and their family.
“The availability of pembrolizumab and nivolumab could improve outcomes for patients living with this disease.
“For people with CLL, venetoclax offers another treatment option that may allow patients to continue working and participating in family life.
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“Dapagliflozin may delay disease progression in patients with CKD and may reduce the risk of patients developing end-stage renal disease.
“We know that antibiotic resistance is a growing concern and the availability of another antibiotic, oritavancin, will be welcome.
“Obesity is a serious public health issue in Scotland. Used alongside diet and exercise, liraglutide could help carefully selected patients on their weight loss journey.
“The committee was unable to accept ropeginterferon because the evidence provided by the company on the clinical and economic effectiveness of the treatment compared to current treatments was not sufficient.
“We were also unable to accept daratumumab because the evidence provided by the company on the benefits of using this drug was not strong enough to justify its cost.”