Scottish Medicines Consortium rejects treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer

People with advanced pancreatic cancer in Scotland whose first chemotherapy treatment has not been effective or stopped working will lose out on access to a new second treatment option, which could mean they live twice as long as they would otherwise.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has today announced that it has turned down the promising new treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer, Onivyde®, or pegylated liposomal irinotecan, for use on the NHS due to a lack of evidence for its clinical and cost effectiveness. The SMC assessed the new treatment after it was first licensed for use in October last year.

This is very disappointing news for Scots with pancreatic cancer and their families, as there are very few treatment options for the disease. 80 per cent of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage. In Scotland, pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all the 21 most common cancers, with less than four per cent of patients living for five years or more after diagnosis. Almost 800 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in Scotland each year.

Research has found that patients being treated with Onivyde® lived on average two months longer than they would have without the treatment. Someone with advanced pancreatic cancer will, on average, live for just two to six months.

Alongside Pancreatic Cancer UK, we are now calling for the manufacturer to undertake a collection of further clinical data to find out more about the effectiveness of the treatment, as well as further consideration to be given to the cost of the treatment.

Ali Stunt, Chief Executive at Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: “Onivyde is a significant step forward in the management of advanced pancreatic cancer.

“It is very disappointing that it is not being made available to patients based on economic grounds, but, we hope SMC and the manufacturer can find a way of making this treatment available, which offers real hope to patients for whom initial chemotherapy treatment has been unsuccessful.”

Alex Ford, Chief Executive at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “This news is a bitter blow to patients with advanced disease in Scotland, who will now be unable to access a promising new treatment as a second line option on the NHS. Studies have shown that Onivyde® could potentially allow patients the chance of living for twice as long as they would otherwise, allowing families precious and unforgettable extra time together.

“Giving patients with advanced disease every single possible treatment option simply must be a priority for a disease which has seen such little progress in treatments and survival rates for decades. That is why we are calling for the collection of further clinical data on the treatment to gain vital insight into the treatment’s effectiveness and its potential place in the management of pancreatic cancer. We must leave no stone unturned in our ongoing efforts to give all patients the chance to live for longer.”