New cancer drugs approved for NHS use in Scotland

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Jeane Freeman has welcomed the approval of new drugs for treatment of people with incurable breast cancer (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

Medicines for breast cancer, skin cancer and schizophrenia have been approved for use by NHS patients in Scotland.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has accepted Abemaciclib (Vernezios), a drug that can prolong the time breast cancer takes to progress and delay the need for chemotherapy, allowing patients more quality time with their family.

A drug for patients after surgery on advanced skin cancers which can help prevent recurrence, and a treatment for people with negative emotional schizophrenia were also recommended for use in Scotland.

The decision on Abemaciclib (Vernezios) was welcomed by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

Ms Freeman said: “We welcome the decision by the independent Scottish Medicines Consortium to approve Vernezios for use in the treatment of advanced or metastatic breast cancer in two different settings.

“This decision could extend the lives of women with incurable cancer and make a real difference to them and their families.

“Being diagnosed with cancer is devastating for all those affected and we are committed to supporting and continually improving patient care.”

Following the announcement, SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said: “I am pleased we have been able to accept these new medicines for use by NHS Scotland.

“Through the evidence given by patients and clinicians, we know that our decisions on Abemaciclib will be welcomed, as this may allow patients to maintain a good quality of life for longer.”

“Our decision on pembrolizumab means there is a treatment for patients currently relying on a ‘watch and wait’ approach to monitor their melanoma.

“Having the reassurance of a treatment that may give them more time will support those at this stage of the condition.

“Cariprizine provides a helpful treatment option for those with schizophrenia whose main symptoms include lack of motivation and social withdrawal.”

A drug that aims to treat pregnant women suffering from nausea and vomiting was rejected by the board.

Mr MacDonald added: “We were unable accept doxylamine succinate/pyridoxine hydrochloride as there was too much uncertainty in the company’s evidence about both its clinical benefits and its cost-effectiveness.”

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