Tuesday 11 June 2019 at 10:55

Two more drugs approved for lung cancer patients in Scotland

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has approved two drug therapies to be made available to NHS Scotland patients with differing types of lung cancer.
Brigatinib (also known by the brand name Alunbrig) is a targeted therapy used to treat patients with ALK positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose illness has not responded to another medicine called crizotinib. 
Patients diagnosed with ALK positive (sometimes written as ALK+) NSCLC have a very rare form of the disease. Their cancer cells have a genetic change affecting the gene responsible for making a protein called anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). 
This leads to a faulty version of the ALK protein being produced. Only around 3-5% of patients with NSCLC have cancer cells with this kind of alteration.  
Brigitinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) that comes in the form of a tablet, taken once daily. It works by binding to the ALK protein and this blocks the process that results in the growth and spread of cancer cells.
The SMC has also approved an immunotherapy drug called durvalumab (brand name: Imfinzi) to treat patients with a certain type of NSCLC. 
It is used in patients whose disease has not progressed (got worse) on another treatment called platinum-based chemoradiation (which is where platinum chemotherapy and radiotherapy are given together), and where at least 1% or more of the cancer cells have a protein called PD-L1 on their surface. 
Durvalumab is an immunotherapy, a type of treatment that stimulates the body’s immune system (your own natural defence system) to fight the cancer. Some cancer cells produce the protein PD-L1 that can ‘switch off’ certain immune cells (T-cells). Durvalumab attaches to PD-L1 which prevents it from ‘switching off’ the T-cells, and helps the body’s immune system fight the cancer. 
These decisions by the SMC means that if you are a patient living in Scotland whose healthcare professional thinks that either brigitinib or durvalumab is the right medicine for you, then you should be able to have the treatment on the NHS. 
Lorraine Dallas, our Director of Information and Support, said: “These positive decisions by the SMC are very welcome, as they offer additional treatment options for patients in Scotland. They bring fresh hope, for patients and their families, of being able to enjoy more time together and a better quality of life. 

"We are proud to have played our part, being the ‘voice of the lung cancer patient’, in the SMC consultation process"
Lorraine Dallas, our Director of Information and Support

If you are affected by this decision and want more information, you can call our Ask the Nurse service on 0800 358 7200, email lungcancerhelp@roycastle.org
Or download our targeted therapy and immunotherapy information at https://www.roycastle.org/how-we-help/lung-cancer-information/information-about-treatments
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