AZ’s Tagrisso gets NHS funding in Scotland

AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso (osimertinib) lung cancer pill is among a group of medicines recommended for routine NHS use in Scotland.

A major commercial hope for AZ, Tagrisso barely made it past England’s cost-effectiveness assessments and ended up being reimbursed by the new-look Cancer Drugs Fund for the next two years, or until the company can give NICE data about the drug’s long-term benefits.

But arguments put forward by patients and doctors during Scotland’s assessment process were enough to convince Scottish Medicine Consortium (SMC) that Tagrisso should be reimbursed at the first time of asking.

Approved in advanced EGFR positive non-small cell lung cancer, with a T790M mutation, Tagrisso is taken after cancers develop a single amino acid mutation that prevents AZ’s Iressa (gefitinib) and other tyrosine kinase inhibitors from interacting with cancer cells.

The SMC accepted Tagrisso after consideration through its Patient and Clinician Engagement (PACE) process, for medicines used to treat end-of-life and very rare conditions.

A PACE meeting heard Tagrisso is better tolerated than other treatments and its oral administration can allow patients to lead more normal lives and possibly return to work.

Other drugs accepted by the SMC were Novartis’ Afinitor (everolimus) for advanced neuroendocrine tumours of gastrointestinal or lung origin in adults with progressive disease.

The SMC also accepted Amgen’s high cholesterol treatment Repatha (evolocumab), Servier’s Lonsurf (trifluridine+tipiracil), Allergan’s Botox (botulinum toxin A) for migraine prophylaxis,  and Pharmacosmos’ Diafer (iron III isomaltoside).

But the SMC rejected Ferring’s Noqdirna (desmopressin) for nocturia due to idiopathic nocturnal polyuria in adults, Cardiome’s Brinavess (vernakalant) heart drug, and Lincoln Medical’s narcolepsy drug, Wakix (pitolisant).

Professor Jonathan Fox, chairman of the SMC, said: “We are pleased to be able to accept these six new medicines for routine use in NHS Scotland. Through the valuable testimonies provided by patient groups and clinicians at our PACE meeting, we know that osimertinib will be welcomed as it can enable patients to live more normal daily lives.”

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