Patients with advanced kidney cancer in Scotland will now also get access to GlaxoSmithKline's Votrient on the National Health Service, after regulators approved the drug as a cost effective use of resources.

Hot on the heels of a positive recommendation by sister body the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence last week, the Scottish Medicines Consortium has now also ruled that Votrient (pazopanib) can be funded on the NHS as a first-line treatment for advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and for patients who have received prior cytokine therapy for advanced disease.

The decision was based on clinical data showing that the drug is able to slow down disease progression while maintaining quality of life, as well as a patient access scheme to ensure its cost effectiveness.

The scheme offers a straight discount at the point of invoice, but also provides for a possible partial rebate to the NHS in the future, depending on the outcome of an ongoing head-to-head trial (COMPARZ) pitting the drug against Pfizer's Sutent (sunitinib), the current standard-of-care and only other targeted therapy currently available for the condition.

GSK said it is confident that the appropriate evidence will be generated to support Votrient as a cost-effective alternative to Sutent, but, if not, is prepared to pay back a partial rebate to the health service under a flexible approach to pricing designed to secure patients faster access to innovative treatment while clinical data to prove the drug's value accumulates. 

"It’s great news that the SMC could see the value in our pricing scheme, enabling advanced kidney cancer patients in Scotland rapid access to Votrient," noted Simon Jose, General Manager, GSK UK.

Welcome news

The news will be particularly welcomed by patients as Sutent is currently the only one other targeted therapy available to treat advanced kidney cancer, an aggressive form of the disease which is generally unresponsive to chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy.

Both therapies have very different side-effect profiles, and "the availability of a choice of first-line oral treatments for advanced renal cell carcinoma is hugely significant for oncologists and the advanced kidney cancer patients under their care,” said Rob Jones, Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.