Alectinib Approved for Scottish Patients
A new targeted therapy, alectinib, has been approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for NHS Scotland patients with a rare type of lung cancer that predominantly affects younger people and non-smokers.
The SMC says the drug can now be used as a first-line treatment option for patients with ALK-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
According to the SMC, compared with another tyrosine kinase inhibitor, evidence from trials showed that alectinib “significantly improved progression-free survival” in patients with ALK+ NSCLC who had not yet received any other form of treatment.
Alectinib becomes the third drug available to patients in Scotland with advanced ALK positive NSCLC, after crizotinib and ceritinib (in Scotland, ceritinib is available for second-line or subsequent treatment, though not for first-line).
While it is not curative, the aim of alectinib is to target two specific enzymes, anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) and the RET proto-oncogene. Inhibiting the ALK enzyme blocks cell signalling pathways, which kills off tumour cells.
Each of these therapies offer patients fresh hope of more time and better quality of life.
Paula Chadwick, the charity’s chief executive, said, “We are seeing the arrival of several new treatments for patients with advanced stage lung cancer and we are pleased to welcome another option for ALK positive patients in Scotland.
"As we know, many of them are already benefitting from crizotinib, so the addition of another effective targeted therapy for this group of people represents a further significant advance. "
"Once again, it’s important to highlight that people with NSCLC are properly tested because, if they are found to be ALK positive, they can receive one or other of these targeted therapies which can, in many cases, prolong life."