Breast cancer drugs cleared for use in Scotland are ‘leap forward’, says charity

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New cancer drugs have been approved for NHS Scotland, including two to fight breast cancer (PA) (PA Media)
New cancer drugs have been approved for NHS Scotland, including two to fight breast cancer (PA) (PA Media)

The approval of two new breast cancer drugs in Scotland represented a “significant leap forward” and would give patients “extra time with their loved ones”, a charity has said, as they become just some of the latest medicines to be approved for use in the NHS.

Enhertu and Tukysa were given the green light for use by scientists at the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) on Monday, alongside non-small-cell, lung cancer drug Tagrisso and eczema medication, Adtralza.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of charity Breast Cancer Now said the approval of the two new treatments for secondary breast cancer brought “hope to patients who have progressed on previous treatments and urgently need new, clinically-effective targeted options.”

“The SMC’s approval of these treatments marks a significant leap forward for certain women living with incurable HER2 positive secondary breast cancer,” said Baroness Morgan.

Access to Enhertu and the Tukysa combination could now give patients more time before their disease progresses and extend their lives, offering them precious extra time with loved ones

Baroness Delyth Morgan

“Availability of the Tukysa combination will provide an important new option for certain people whose breast cancer has spread to the brain, who for too long have faced potentially shorter prognoses and poorer quality of life,” she added.

“For women who’ve progressed beyond two or more targeted treatments, access to Enhertu and the Tukysa combination could now give patients more time before their disease progresses and extend their lives, offering them precious extra time with loved ones.”

Enhertu, trastuzumab deruxtecan, combines two drugs and attaches itself to the HER2 proteins which can stop cancer cells growing. When the trastuzumab attaches itself to the proteins, it delivers anti-body drug deruxtecan directly into the breast cancer cells to kill them.

The SMC said it offered the potential to control the disease and its symptoms, and may slow disease progression which could lead to longer overall survival, and approved the drug on an interim basis.

A raft of new drugs have been approved for use in the Scottish NHS, it has been announced (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)
A raft of new drugs have been approved for use in the Scottish NHS, it has been announced (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)

Tukysa, or tucatinib, helps control how cells grow and divide, and blocks blocks a specific area of the HER2 gene in cancer cells, which stops the cells from growing and spreading.

But the Tukysa drug combination is not yet cleared for use for NHS England and Baroness Morgan urged manufacturer Seagen and approval body, Nice (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), to “urgently work together to ensure the Tukysa combination can also be recommended for routine use on the NHS in England so that more patients can benefit from it as a treatment option, without enduring further delays.”

As part of the SMC’s announcement on Monday, the approval body also gave the go-ahead for Tagrisso for use in the treatment of non-small-cell, lung cancer in patients whose cancer calls have mutated.

Tagrisso, or osimertinib, is used for the initial treatments of patients with the type of cancer which has spread. The type of cancer it targets is incurable and life-limiting, the SMC said, and the drug would provide a treatment which could increase survival and may have fewer side effects.

Mark MacGregor, chairman of the SMC, said: “We hope that our decision on osimertinib may help patients live more normal daily lives.”

And David Ferguson, of Cancer Research UK in Scotland, said: “Scotland is the only part of the UK where lung cancer is the most common cancer. It’s great news that a better treatment option is being made available for people with advanced forms of the disease.”

Eczema drug Adtralza, or tralokinumab, was also approved for use by clinicians in NHS Scotland.

Cancer drug Opdivo, also called nivolumab, when used with another drug and chemotherapy, for the treatment of non-small-cell, lung cancer, was not accepted.

Me MacGregor said: “We were unable to accept nivolumab as the evidence provided by the company was not strong enough to satisfy the committee of its cost effectiveness.”

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