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Two blood cancer drugs among six medicines accepted for use in Scotland

Two blood cancer drugs are among six medicines that have been approved for use by NHS Scotland (Julien Behal/PA)
Two blood cancer drugs are among six medicines that have been approved for use by NHS Scotland (Julien Behal/PA)

Two drugs for treating a form of blood cancer are among six medicines given the nod by the body that advises on medicines for use by NHS Scotland.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has accepted two drugs for treating adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), a form of blood cancer.

Glofitamab (sold under the brand name Columvi) and epcoritamab (also known as Tepkinly), are intended for patients who have relapsed, or who have not responded after two previous lines of treatment.

About 430 adults in Scotland are diagnosed with DLBCL each year and the prognosis for those who have relapsed or who have not responded to two lines of treatment is currently poor, according to Tepkinly manufacturer Abbvie.

Graeme Bryson, SMC vice chair, said: “We are pleased to be able to accept two medicines for relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: glofitamab and epcoritamab.

“The committee heard from patient representatives the impact this condition has on patients and their families, and the expected benefits these new medicines could bring.”

The decision to accept epcoritamab, which works by helping the body’s immune system to attack and destroy cancerous cells, has been welcomed by blood cancer community, Blood Cancer UK.

Josh Hill, Blood Scotland UK policy officer, said: “We are delighted that the SMC has made epcoritamab available to eligible people in Scotland living with this aggressive blood cancer.

“Epcoritamab is a bispecific antibody, administered as an injection under the skin, designed to recognise and attach to the cancer cells and immune cells, so that the body’s immune system can destroy them.”

Clinicians have also welcomed the SMC’s decision, saying that as well as providing another treatment option, the use of epcoritamab is not restricted to specialised treatment centres and so patients can be treated closer to home.

Angus Broom, consultant haematologist at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, said: “Epcoritamab is the first bispecific treatment option in this disease area that can be administered as an injection under the skin, in a hospital setting.

“This could allow patients to potentially be treated close to home, as this treatment can be delivered in a wider hospital setting rather than just specialist centres.”

The SMC has also accepted for use voxelotor (also know as Oxbryta), an orally-administered drug for treating haemolytic anaemia caused by sickle cell disease, in patients aged 12 years and older.

Sickle cell disease is a lifelong, inherited, blood disorder that affects about 17,500 people in the UK and which, among other things, increases the risk of infection and anaemia, according to pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which developed the drug.

Mr Bryson said: “We know that sickle cell disease can have a huge impact on people’s lives and that our decision to accept voxelotor will be welcomed by patients and their families.”

Voxelotor is the first treatment for haemolytic anaemia due to sickle cell disease to be made routinely available on the NHS in Scotland, according to Pfizer.

The committee also accepted adult weight loss drug tirzepatide (sold under the brand name Mounjaro), with Mr Bryson saying this offered another option for people with weight-related, health conditions.

“Obesity is a serious public health issue in Scotland. The committee has accepted tirzepatide that will help patients with obesity lose and manage their weight when used together with exercise and a reduced-calorie diet,” he said.

The SMC also accepted etrasimod (sold under the brand name Velsipity), for treating ulcerative colitis in patients aged 16 and over; and momelotinib (also known as Omjjara), for the treatment of an enlarged spleen.