NHS Scotland has agreed to fund a new drug that will improve the recovery of over half of stem cell transplant patients, after a lengthy consultation with Anthony Nolan.
The Scottish Medicine Consortium (SMC) has announced that Letermovir (Prevymis) which is used to prevent a virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV) from causing serious illness in patients after stem cell transplant, has been approved as of today. The decision follows calls from patients, clinical experts and Anthony Nolan.
Letermovir is the first drug licensed for prevention of CMV reactivation or disease in patients who have received an allogeneic stem cell transplant. Currently, treatments are used to control CMV reactivation when it has been detected and is already occurring. However, these treatments come with a range of debilitating side effects.
A survey of stem cell transplant patients run by Anthony Nolan showed that CMV reactivation was a significant setback for patients. Over two thirds (67%) of respondents stated that CMV reactivation hindered or extended their recovery post-transplant, and over half (58%) said it had a negative or very negative effect on their emotional health and wellbeing.
While welcoming the decision in Scotland, Anthony Nolan urged the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to follow the example of the SMC and make the treatment available to stem cell transplant recipients in England.
Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan said: 'I am delighted that stem cell transplant patients in Scotland now have access to a treatment which will significantly improve their quality of life. Recovering from a stem cell transplant is a long and winding road but being able to help patients to avoid the most difficult side effects associated with other treatment options is an important step forwards.
'We’re happy to see that the Scottish Medicine Consortium views patient experience so highly in their decision-making, and I hope that the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence will follow suit and make this available for patients in England.'
Chloe Anthias, Medical Director of Anthony Nolan, said: 'This is great news for stem cell transplant patients in Scotland. The current treatments for CMV reactivation can have a very negative effect on quality of life, but the SMC decision represents a significant step forward.'