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Rare lung cancer drug approved in Scotland

Published on 14/08/18 at 09:14am
Image Credit: Yale Rosen https://www.flickr.com/photos/pulmonary_pathology/3922609891

The Scottish Medicines Consortium has approved Roche’s cancer drug alectinib for the treatment of patients with untreated advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumours are identified as ALK-positive.

The drug has been shown to improve outcomes in comparison to current standards of care. The treatment proved to reduce the risk of disease progression and death by 53% and was shown to reduce the risk of tumours in the central nervous system (CNS) by 84%.

Dr Brian Clark, Consultant in Clinical Oncology, at Gartnavel General Hospital said, “ALK-positive NSCLC is a rare type of lung cancer that predominantly affects the younger, non-smoking population. In up to 50% of cases, the cancer has spread to the brain at the time of diagnosis. Alectinib has demonstrated improvements in delaying cancer growth in these patients and, importantly, has also shown significant improvements in preventing and delaying cancer spread into the brain. This is welcome news for patients and clinicians across Scotland, where lung is the most common cancer.”

The decision follows NICE’s approval for the drug in the same indication for patients in England and Wales. Significantly alectinib met the Scottish Medicines Consortium’s ultra-orphan criterion which covers medicines used to treat rare conditions with a prevalence of 1 in 50,000 people or fewer.

Simon Eayrs, Cancer Immunotherapy Lead for Roche UK, commented, “We are delighted that patients with this rare type of lung cancer will be eligible to access alectinib via NHS Scotland. This announcement is testament of our commitment to work together with the SMC to give people living with advanced forms of this rare type of lung cancer a new treatment option.”

Prior to the approval, Roche had provided the cancer drug to patients in Scotland via the Early Access to Medicines Schemes (EAMS),which allows patients and doctors access to new, unlicensed medicines before official approval is gained.

Louis Goss

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