Ovarian Cancer Drug Approved For Use On NHS

Scotland has become the first part of the UK to approve a new treatment on the NHS for women with incurable ovarian cancer.The Scottish Medicines Consortium said Avastin can be prescribed on the NHS for patients with advanced ovarian cancer

Scotland has become the first part of the UK to approve a new treatment on the NHS for women with incurable ovarian cancer.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has given the go ahead for the drug Avastin – also known as bevacizumab – to be used to help patients whose disease is at an advanced stage.

Both doctors and patients’ groups had urged the SMC to make the drug, which has been shown to increase the time people live without their disease worsening, available on the NHS.

The decision means that Scotland is the first part of the UK where ovarian cancer sufferers will have routine access to the treatment, which works by starving tumours of their blood supply.

Approximately 7,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, including about 615 in Scotland.

It is often not diagnosed until a late stage, after the cancer has spread, with survival rates in the UK the worst in Europe.

Professor Nick Reed, consultant clinical oncologist at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow, said: “Ovarian cancer is a relapsing and remitting disease and, in its advanced form, is associated with a poor quality of life and outlook.

“Avastin, when given as a front-line treatment, can help to delay the recurrence of the cancer and marks a much needed significant step forward in the treatment of ovarian cancer in Scotland.

“It’s encouraging to see that the Pace (Patient And Clinician Engagement) process has allowed Scottish patients to access this treatment on the NHS.”

The treatment is the first new medicine developed for women with advanced ovarian cancer for 10 years.

Richard Erwin, managing director of the drug manufacturer Roche UK, said: “This is really good news for patients with ovarian cancer in Scotland. The flexibility demonstrated by the SMC has ensured sustainable access for patients in Scotland.”

But Mr Erwin said more must be done “as a matter of urgency” to ensure cancer patients across the UK have access to the same level of treatment.

The SMC also approved the drug pembrolizumab for the treatment of advanced skin cancer for those patients who have not been treated with ipilimumab.

SMC chair Professor Jonathan Fox said: “We know from the testimonies given by patient groups through both the Pace process and patient group submissions that patients and clinicians will welcome these medicines being made routinely available in NHS Scotland.”

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