The Scottish Medicines Consortium has endorsed the use of seven new drugs on the National Health Service, including two biosimilars.

First up, the cost regulator has agreed that GlaxoSmithKline’s Tafinlar (dabrafenib) should be considered a treatment option for certain types of melanoma which cannot be removed surgically or have spread to other parts of the body. The drug offers an alternative therapy which is as effective as others currently available but comes with a different side-effect profile, the SMC noted.

Novartis’ Jakavi (ruxolitinib) has been cleared for enlarged spleen or symptoms in adults with primary myeolfibrosis. Patient groups and clinicians taking part in the appraisal spoke about the debilitating symptoms patients suffer as a result, and as there are no medical treatments that effectively address these symptoms Jakavi can greatly improve patients’ quality of life, the Committee said.

Elsewhere, two new biosimilar formulations of infliximab - Hospira’s Inflectra and Celltrion’s Remsima (distrubuted by Napp) - were accepted for restricted use, in line with the current advice in Scotland for reference product Remicade. The drug is used to treat joint conditions such rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, the gastrointestinal conditions Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and psoriasis. “The managed introduction of these biosimilar preparations is expected to yield savings for the NHS as they are generally cheaper than the originator product,” the SMC noted.

Gilead’s Zydelig (idelalisib) was backed for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), the most common form of leukaemia. Specifically, the SMC accepted the drug for use in patients with relapsed CLL who are unsuitable for chemotherapy and as a first line treatment for patients who have specific genetic changes which mean they are unsuitable for chemo-immunotherapy.

Sticking with Gilead, Harvoni (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir) was also accepted for restricted use in the treatment of certain types of chronic hepatitis C in adults. Consent has been given by the SMC for its use in patients with genotype 1 and 4 forms of the disease, offering the prospect of a cure from the infection.

Pfizer/Bristol-Myers Squibb’s bloodthinner Eliquis (apixaban) made it in for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism and prevention of their recurrence in adults. The drug is already in use in Scotland for the prevention of DVT in adults undergoing hip and knee surgery and also for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in adults with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

On the downside, Swedish Orphan’s ultra-orphan drug Cometriq (cabozantinib) was not recommended as a treatment for a rare type of thyroid cancer, because of “uncertainties around the clinical benefits and tolerability”.