New treatment options for lymphoma in Scotland

Lenalidomide plus rituximab is now available on the NHS in Scotland for relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma, while ibrutinib has been approved for NHS use in people with relapsed or refractory Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia.

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The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has today announced that two new treatment options have been approved for NHS use in Scotland:

These treatments have already been assessed and approved for NHS use in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Today’s decision means that people throughout the UK can access them on the NHS.

It is reassuring that these treatments are now available for everyone in the UK, providing equal access for those living in Scotland.
Stephen Scowcroft, Lymphoma Action

Follicular lymphoma is the most common type of low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Treatment is generally effective but the lymphoma typically comes back at some point. Most people need several courses of treatment over the years, so it’s important to have a variety of different treatments available. Lenalidomide plus rituximab provides an effective, chemotherapy-free option for people who might need it. 

Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia (WM) is a rare type of low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is usually treated first with chemotherapy combined with rituximab (‘chemo-immunotherapy). Treatment is usually successful but, like follicular lymphoma, WM often comes back and needs more treatment. Ibrutinib is a type of targeted drug called a BTK inhibitor, which blocks the signals that help lymphoma cells survive and grow. On its own, it is licensed to treat adults with WM who aren’t able to have chemo-immunotherapy, or who have had at least one previous course of treatment. In combination with rituximab, it is licensed for adults with WM.

The SMC assessment considered the use of ibrutinib plus rituximab for people with WM regardless of whether or not they had received previous treatment. Although the SMC have accepted the drug for NHS use, they have restricted it to people who have already received at least one previous course of treatment. It is disappointing that ibrutinib plus rituximab did not receive wider approval, but today’s SMC recommendation is in line with that of other nations in the UK.

For more information about new drugs being developed to treat lymphoma, visit Lymphoma TrialsLink.

12 October 2020