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