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SMC reverses decision on Opdivo in advanced skin cancer

Published on 08/08/16 at 02:03pm

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has reversed an earlier decision for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) and has now approved recommended the drugs to treat Scottish NHS patients with advanced skin cancer.

The SMC had originally taken an opposing view to the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in England, which drew harsh criticism at the time from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Following a review of the evidence provided, the SMC decision has now been reversed, with Scottish NHS patients now on par with their counterparts in England and Wales. It has been strong in numerous clinical trials, with one recent notable exception, with studies such as CheckMate -066 showing that Opdivo lead to a one year survival rate of 72% versus only 42.1% in the comparative chemotherapy arm. At two years, Opdivo more than doubled the survival rate.

It will now be available for previously-untreated adult patients with advanced (unresectable or metastatic) melanoma on the NHS in Scotland.

Benjamin Hickey, general manager UK and Ireland at Bristol-Myers Squibb, says: “Nivolumab is a game-changing medicine and we are delighted that NHS patients in Scotland will now have it available as a treatment option for advanced skin cancer. We remain committed to bringing Scottish patients rapid access to nivolumab in its additional licensed indications.”

Gillian Nuttall, founder at Melanoma UK, adds: “Until today, we have seen an untenable situation where patients in England and Wales had access to this medicine, while those in Scotland did not. I’m pleased that all parties have worked together to come to a solution for patients on this occasion, but to prevent this type of disparity continuing to affect patients in future, it is important that we work towards implementation of a more equitable medicines review process across the UK.”

Sean Murray

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