The Scottish Medicines Consortium, a committee that advises NHS Scotland on what medicines they should provide, has accepted four new drugs for use. These are gemtuzumab ozogamicin for acute myeloid leukaemia, anakinra for Still’s disease, hydrocortisone for adrenal insufficiency, and ixekizumab for psoriatic arthritis. For more detailed information, you can view the SMC’s original announcement here, at their website.
About The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC)
The SMC is a committee made up of clinicians, pharmacists, NHS representatives, members of the pharmaceutical industry, and the public, who help to advise NHS Scotland on which medicines should be accepted for use. The group, which meets once per month, is deliberately diverse, in order to bring a range of perspectives to the decision-making process.
Gemtuzumab Ozogamicin (Mylotarg)
Gemtuzumab ozogamicin has been accepted by the SMC as a treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). AML is an aggressive form of cancer that develops in myeloid cells – a type of white blood cell that helps the body to fight bacterial infections, parasites, and limits tissue damage.
While reviewing the medicine, the SMC heard from patient groups who talked about patient experiences of the disease, including how some patients are diagnosed after an emergency admission, and how the illness’s symptoms can affect their lives. According to the SMC, AML remission is associated with a high risk of relapse, and gemtuzumab ozogamicin is hoped to be able to help extend the time before relapse and improve the quality of life for patients.
The SMC accepted anakinra as a therapy for Still’s disease, which is a form of inflammatory arthritis. It can affect children (called systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis) or adults (known as adult-onset Still’s disease). Both forms can have a huge impact on patients’ lives and may cause joint and muscle pain, and flu-like symptoms, among others.
Hydrocortisone was accepted for treating infants, children, and adolescents who have adrenal insufficiency, a disorder that results in a lack of the hormone cortisol, leading to symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, and weight loss. According to the SMC, some patients find current treatment options difficult to take, since they need to be crushed and mixed with water (leading to inaccurate dosing), and can taste very bitter. Hydrocortisone works to overcome these two problems and could be a useful option for some patients.
The fourth drug to be accepted is Ixekizumab, as a treatment for psoriatic arthritis, which is a long-term condition that can cause inflamed, stiff, and painful joints. In severe cases, patients are at risk of permanent damage that could require surgery. Acceptance of ixekizumab could give patients another treatment option, which is particularly important for those who haven’t responded well to other treatments.