18 February 2019

Patients in Scotland are to be denied access to a CAR-T cell therapy approved for use in England, it has been announced.

One therapy, Kymriah, has been approved for children suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) announced last week.

However, it rejected the use of Yescarta for the treatment of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The treatment has recently been made available in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund.

The SMC cited costs as the reason for rejection, stating that the manufacturers did not submit a “sufficiently robust” economic case.

The charity Bloodwise said that clinical trials suggested Yescarta could provide a long-term cure for 40% of relapsed DLBCL patients.

It called for the manufacturers Novartis and the SMC to work together to find an affordable solution.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research and Patient Experience at Bloodwise, said: “Current intensive treatments cure most children with ALL - but a small number still die in Scotland each year. The approval of Kymriah for use on the NHS will give children and their families another chance of a cancer-free future.

“CAR-T therapy can also offer the last and only hope of long-term survival for adults with the most common type of lymphoma who do not respond to chemotherapy.

“While the cost of Yescarta is high and NHS Scotland does not have unlimited resources, patients in Scotland need access to this lifeline, like their counterparts in England.”

Source: SMC/Bloodwise