Two new kidney cancer drugs approved for NHS Scotland

Image caption Nivolumab and cabozantinib were accepted after being reviewed by the Scottish Medicines Consortium

Two new drugs for the treatment of incurable kidney cancer have been approved for use by NHS Scotland.

The drugs have been shown in clinical trials to extend the lives of kidney cancer sufferers by several months compared with existing treatments.

Nivolumab and cabozantinib were accepted after being reviewed by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

The body also approved two other medicines for use, but rejected another because the costs were too high.

All the drugs being considered went through the SMC's patient and clinician engagement (Pace) process.

Dr Alan MacDonald, chairman of the SMC, said: "The committee is pleased to be able to accept four new medicines for routine use by NHS Scotland.

"We know from the evidence given by patient groups at our Pace meeting for nivolumab and cabozantinib that these two medicines will be valuable additions to the treatment currently available for patients with terminal renal cancer."

Image caption Joe McCann said cabozantinib had extended his life by several months

Kidney cancer patient Joe McCann, from Toryglen in Glasgow, was offered cabozantinib under an early access scheme.

The 60-year-old told BBC Scotland that previous treatments had been effective only for a short time.

"They told me after that there weren't any further treatments on the national health so I carried on without any treatment at all."

Mr McCann was then moved to a hospice for palliative care before being offered cabozantinib.

"It's made every difference. I was actually told by my oncologist he didn't think I'd last to Christmas, so I wouldn't be speaking to you now if it wasn't for this drug," he said.

The other two drugs accepted were obeticholic acid - used to treat liver disease - and aprepitant, which is used in combination with other medicines to prevent nausea and vomiting in children undergoing chemotherapy.

But the committee did not accept pertuzumab, a breast cancer treatment, because of the high cost.

Dr MacDonald added: "We know this decision will be disappointing to patients and their families as we understand how devastating breast cancer can be.

"However, when we make our decisions we have to take account of the needs of all patients who require treatment by NHS Scotland, not just those who would benefit from the medicine under consideration."

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