The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has announced its latest round of medicines for use by NHSScotland, publishing advice accepting five new medicines.

Two AstraZeneca drugs, Imfinzi (durvalumab) and Fasenra (benralizumab), were accepted for patients with stage III unresectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and the treatment in adult patients with severe eosinophilic asthma inadequately controlled despite high-dose inhaled corticosteroids plus long-acting beta-agonists, respectively.

Bristol Myers-Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) was also accepted in combination with another medicine, ipilimumab, for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer. The news is welcome as there are currently limited treatment options for this condition, and the combination was shown to improve progression free survival times and overall response rates compared to other current treatment options.

Alunbrig (brigatinib), Takeda’s NSCLC treatment, was accepted for patients who have not responded to another cancer medicine called crizotinib. The indication is only if the NSCLC is ‘ALK-positive’, which means the cancer cells have defects in the gene responsible for a protein called ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase).

Finally, Alnylam’s Onpattro (patisiran) was accepted for the treatment of hereditary transthyretin (hATTR) amyloidosis following consideration through SMC’s Patient and Clinician Engagement (PACE) process. Hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis is a very rare progressive genetic disease in which abnormal proteins called amyloid builds up in tissues around the body including the nerves and the heart.

SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said that the committee is “pleased to be able to accept these five new medicines for use by NHSScotland.”

He continued, “Patients with hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis have a poor prognosis and heavy symptom burden that affects every aspect of their lives and those of their families and carers. We know from the evidence given through our PACE meeting that our decision on patisiran will be welcomed.”

“For patients with ALK-positive NSCLC, brigatinib offers the opportunity of more good quality time with family and friends before the cancer returns. For those with PD-L1-positive NSCLC, durvalumab maintenance therapy can help delay the spread of the cancer and offers the opportunity of improved survival.”

“Our decision on nivolumab for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma means patients may have longer without the progression of the cancer compared to other currently available treatments.”

“Benralizumab will help those with severe asthma better manage their condition and hopefully reduce the volume of other medications they require.”

The decisions were published on Monday 10th June.