New Medicines Accepted For Use By The Scottish Medicines Consortium

Posted on: 11th January 2016

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), which reviews newly licensed medicines, has today published advice accepting five new medicines for routine use by NHS Scotland.

Two of these medicines, sorafenib (Nexavar) for liver cancer and tolvaptan (Jinarc) for Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD) were accepted after consideration under SMC’s PACE (Patient and Clinician Engagement) process. PACE aims to improve patient access to new medicines for the treatment of end of life and very rare conditions.

Sorafenib is used to treat a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma, which affects a small number of patients. During the PACE meeting, it was highlighted by patient groups and clinicians that this cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and patients have a poor prognosis. Sorafenib, which is taken orally, is the only treatment with evidence of benefit in patients who are not suitable for surgical treatment and SMC accepted it for use in these patients.

Tolvaptan is used to treat the inherited kidney disease ADPKD, where fluid filled cysts grow in the kidneys causing a loss of kidney function. In the PACE meeting, it was noted that symptoms generally first appear in a relatively young patient group who are often working or raising children. Tolvaptan is the first medicine to address the underlying causes of ADPKD. It can help to slow the rate of decline in kidney function thus delaying the need for kidney dialysis. There are currently no other licensed treatment options for ADPKD.

Also accepted was netupitant/palonosetron (Akynzeo), a combination of two medicines which can be used to prevent and treat nausea brought on by cancer chemotherapy. Netupitant/palonosetron offers another option for symptom control in this patient group.

The Committee also accepted two injectable medicines for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, dulaglutide (Trulicity) and albiglutide (Eperzan). Patient groups highlighted that both medicines are once weekly treatments which may be beneficial for some patients.

Professor Jonathan Fox, chairman of SMC, said:

“I am pleased the Committee has been able to accept these five medicines for routine use in NHS Scotland. We know from the testimony given by patient groups and clinicians at the PACE meetings that sorafenib for liver cancer and tolvaptan for ADKPD will be welcomed. The patient group contribution played an important part in helping the Committee reach its decisions on these medicines.”

The British Liver Trust is delighted that the Scottish Medicine Consortium (SMC) has accepted the Trust’s evidence on behalf of patients and agreed to the use of Sorafenib, a drug for patients with a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma. Currently there is no other treatment available and this medicine helps improve the quality of their life and alleviate some of the symptoms.

Andrew Langford, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust said, “Whilst it’s fantastic news that the Scottish Medicines Consortium has today agreed to the use of Sorafenib, the decision highlights a two tier system where patients in England are denied access to this treatment that can improve their end of life care.”

You can see full details of the announcement from the Scottish Medicines Consortium: