New drug approved by the SMC for patients in Scotland with difficult to treat liver cancer

Posted on: 9th April 2019

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has recommended the use of Lenvima® (lenvatinib) within NHS Scotland as a monotherapy for the treatment of adult patients with advanced or unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who have received no prior systemic therapy.1  The British Liver Trust submitted evidence to the SMC on behalf of patients and is pleased that there are now additional options for people with this hard to treat cancer.

Liver cancer is the seventh most common cause of cancer mortality in Scotland, with the disease killing 572 individuals in 2015; a 52% increase since 2005.2 While the incidence of liver cancer is on the rise, five-year relative survival rates in Scotland remains below the European average.3 As HCC accounts for nearly 90% of primary liver cancer cases in the UK, and is often unresectable by surgery, systemic therapies are an increasingly important option.2,4 Treatment options for unresectable HCC in the UK are limited and the prognosis is poor, making this an area of high unmet need.2

“HCC is a devastating disease that has seen little progress in recent years in terms of innovation and new systemic treatment options, so lenvatinib as an alternative option is a very welcomed step forward for physicians, HCC patients and their families”, said Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy at the British Liver Trust. “We are delighted that the Scottish Medicines Consortium has agreed to the use of this drug for patients in Scotland."

“This is really welcome news for clinicians and for patients across Scotland, where previously the limited availability of treatment options created an additional challenge when diagnosed with HCC”, said Professor Jeff Evans, Professor of Translational Cancer Research, University of Glasgow. “This new option will allow us greater flexibility in managing patients who may not be suitable for other treatment options.”

1. Scottish Medicines Consortium. Medicine: lenvatinib (brand name: Lenvima®) for hepatocellular carcinoma. Available from:
2. NHS National Services Scotland. Information Services Division Publication Report. Cancer Mortality in Scotland (2015). Available from:
3. Cancer Research UK: Liver Cancer Statistics. Available from:
4. Llovet J, et al. Hepatocellular carcinoma. Nature Reviews Disease Primers. 2016;14;2:16018