Five new medicines are to be funded by the NHS in Scotland, bringing new treatment options for cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as a new contraceptive.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has accepted MSD’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for the treatment of advanced bladder cancer following consideration through SMC’s Patient and Clinician Engagement (PACE) process for medicines used to treat very rare and end of life conditions.

It was concluded that the PD1 inhibitor – approved for bladder cancer in Europe in September last year - is better tolerated and may improve both survival and quality of life compared to existing options.

Merck’s Mavenclad (cladribine) was backed as an option for treating relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) in patients whose condition is highly active.

Clinical data underpinning Mavenclad’s green light in Europe show that the pill, a selective immune reconstitution therapy (SIRT), cut the annualised relapse rate by 67 percent.

Pfizer’s Xeljanz (tofacitinib) is now funded by NHS Scotland to treat severe rheumatoid arthritis in adults who have not responded to or are intolerant of other current treatments.

As an oral treatment, Xeljanz offers an effective treatment as an alternative to other medicines that are given by injection or infusion, the SMC noted.

Following a resubmission Biofrontera’s gel Ameluz (5-aminolaevulinic acid hydrochloride) was accepted for use to treat basal cell carcinoma (a low grade type of skin cancer) unsuitable for surgical removal.

Also endorsed was Bayer’s Kyleena (levonorgestrel), an intrauterine device that provides contraception for up to five years and may offer women greater choice of preparations.

The system prevents pregnancy by continuously releasing a low dose of a synthetic hormone – a progestogen called levonorgestrel, and was shown to be 99 percent effective in clinical trials.