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9 December 2014, 05:00
A new blood cancer drug has been approved for use in Scotland which could extend the lives of patients with the most common type of adult leukaemia.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has given the green light for NHS use of Gazyvaro in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).
Many patients with CLL suffer from other medical conditions including diabetes and heart disease, making them unsuitable to receive aggressive therapies.
Drug makers Roche said trials at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital had shown that Gazyvaro, combined with chemotherapy, could reduce the risk of death by 59% and keep patients in remission for more than 15 months longer than those receiving chemotherapy alone.
More than one in five (22%) patients receiving Gazyvaro was in complete remission after treatment, compared to no patients who received chemotherapy alone, Roche UK said.
Manager Jayson Dallas said: "We are very pleased that patients in Scotland will be able to benefit from access to Gazyvaro, which has shown in trials to provide a significant survival advantage over the standard therapy.
"What's important is that government, health assessment bodies and the pharmaceutical industry across the UK work positively together to ensure that the value and benefits of innovative new medicines continue to be recognised so that access to these important cancer therapies is equitable and safeguarded for all.''
Yvonne Dickson, Scottish head of the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: "The approval of Gazyvaro by the SMC is very positive news for Scottish patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
"This type of leukaemia remains largely incurable, so it's vital that when advances in treatment are made that can prolong survival times, patients can benefit from them.''
Gazyvaro kills cancer cells by seeking them out and attaching to them.
It is said to alert the body's immune system to cancer cells, allowing immune cells to attack and destroy them more effectively than some other treatments.