cancer cells attackingThe Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has accepted obinutuzumab (Gazyvaro) for the treatment of follicular lymphoma when used alongside bendamustine.

Follicular lymphoma is a type of cancer of the white blood cells. The new drug treatment was accepted was accepted by SMC for use alongside bendamustine in patients who don’t respond to, or whose condition gets worse, on other treatments. 

Obintuzumab was considered through SMC’s Patient and Clinician Engagement (PACE) process, which is used for medicines to treat end of life and very rare conditions. Through the PACE process, patient groups and clinicians highlighted that follicular lymphoma is an incurable disease characterised by relapses. They also shared that the choice and efficacy of therapies that induce remission diminish as the condition progresses. Obinutuzumab may delay progression of the disease and may spare patients from the burden of undergoing intensive chemotherapy. 

Dr Alan MacDonald, chair designate of the SMC, said: “I am pleased the Committee was able to accept obinutuzumab for routine use in treating follicular lymphoma. From the evidence the Committee heard from the PACE meeting, we know that this decision will be welcomed by patients and clinicians alike.”

However, the SMC was unable to accept liposomal irinotecan (Onivyde) for the treatment of pancreatic cancer for routine use following consideration through the PACE process. This was due to a lack of robust evidence from the submitting company about the clinical benefits and value for money of the medicine when compared to other currently available treatments. 

Commenting on the decision, Dr Alan MacDonald said: “It is disappointing that we were unable to accept liposomal irinotecan for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. While patient groups and clinicians presented a good case in the PACE meeting, the evidence provided by the company on the clinical benefits and value for money of liposomal irinotecan was not strong enough to justify making it available for routine use by NHS Scotland.”