Three new medicines have been endorsed for routine use on the NHS giving patients new options for skin cancer, chronic myeloid leukaemia, and anticoagulant reversal.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium has accepted the use of Novartis' Mekinist (trametinib) to treat advanced melanoma, widening the treatment arsenal for a group of patients with a life expectancy of less than two years.
The drug is used in combination with the firm's Tafinlar (dabrafenib) in patients carrying the specific genetic mutation BRAF V600, and can offer survival time and quality of life benefits, with patients living receiving the new treatment in two clinical trials surviving an average of six months longer than those on other medicines.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence also recently recommended routine NHS use of the combination for skin cancer patients in England and Wales.
Elsewhere, Boehringer Ingelheim's Praxbind, which reverses the effects of the firm's anticoagulant Pradaxa, has been endorsed by the SMC for use to reverse the anticlotting effects of the drug rapidly in patients who need emergency surgery or experience life-threatening bleeding.
Praxbind was approved in Europe in November last year, after interim analysis of data from the RE-VERSE AD study showed complete and sustained reversal for at least 12 hours in almost all patients taking the drug.
Bristol-Myers Squibb's Sprycel (dasatinib) was accepted for first-line treatment of the rare blood cancer chronic myeloid leukaemia, providing not only another treatment option but also one that, being a once-daily oral medication, offers benefits over other currently available therapies.
The cost watchdog also accepted Sprycel for the second-line treatment of CML.
On the downside, despite having been considerred through the Patient and Clinical Engagement Process, the Committee was unable to accept Amgen's Kyprolis (carfilzomib) for the treatment of multiple myeloma, as it was "not satisfied" that evidence on overall survival benefits was strong enough to justify the medicine's cost to the NHS.
The Committee was also unable to recommend Diaferiron (isomaltoside) for the treatment of iron deficiency in patients with chronic kidney disease, because to was not satisfied about its cost-effectiveness relative to other similar iron preparations.