New Drug Treatment Approved For Asbestos-Related Cancer Patients In Scotland

Scottish Medicines Consortium approves NHS Scotland to provide immunotherapy treatment for mesothelioma patients

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), which advises NHS Scotland on the value for patients of newly licensed medicines, has today published advice accepting the first new treatment for the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in 14 years.

Following an assessment of the combined use of immunotherapy drugs nivolumab and ipilimumab, the SMC has accepted the treatment for use by NHS Scotland as a first-line treatment for adults with mesothelioma.

Patients in Scotland with malignant pleural mesothelioma that cannot be removed by surgery will be able to have the treatment on the NHS in Scotland.

As a patient-facing charity, Mesothelioma UK welcomes this decision and commends the SMC on accepting the use of the first new treatment for mesothelioma since 2008.

Mesothelioma is a cancer related to exposure to asbestos and predominantly affects the lining of the lungs. The UK has the highest incidence of the disease in the world with around 2,700 people diagnosed each year.

The nivolumab and ipilimumab combined immunotherapy treatment has been proven in the Checkmate 743 clinical trial to provide significant and clinically meaningful improvement in overall patient survival versus standard-of-care chemotherapy.

Mesothelioma Chief Executive, Liz Darlison MBE commented: “We’re absolutely delighted that the SMC has taken the decision to accept this treatment for patients through NHS Scotland. After around 14 years without new treatments for mesothelioma, this is fantastic news for patients in Scotland. We sincerely hope that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) follows the example set by the SMC and approves this immunotherapy treatment for use in the NHS in England. A decision on this is due to be made by NICE in early spring.”

Nigel Shaddick, a mesothelioma patient who took part in the Checkmate 743 trial and received this immunotherapy treatment said: “Ipilimumab/nivolumab has given me my life back. I can now look forward and plan for a full, exciting and active future.”

Carolyn MacCrae, Mesothelioma UK Clinical Nurse Specialist Team Leader for Scotland and Mesothelioma Clinical Nurse Specialist commented on the SMC announcement: “This is a wonderful and hugely significant treatment development which has the potential to improve outcomes and quality of life for mesothelioma patients throughout Scotland. Thank you to the SMC along with everyone who’s made this possible. In particular, thank you to every patient who participated in the Checkmate 743 trial. Clinical trials depend on the willingness of individuals to take part and for some, this includes extra appointments, tests, travel and not least, anxiety. However, they help advance treatment and care and today, everyone who participated has given hope and benefited so many others affected by this disease.”

Professor Kevin Blyth, Professor of Respiratory Medicine and Founder of the Scottish Mesothelioma Network University of Glasgow said: “This is fantastic news for mesothelioma patients in Scotland. Combination immunotherapy with ipilimumab/nivolumab has shown clear superiority over chemotherapy and the decision to fund this by the SMC creates a new and routinely available standard of care. We look forward to integrating first line ipilimumab/nivolumab into treatment pathways in the Scottish Mesothelioma Network.”

Miles Briggs MSP, Co-chair of Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Cancer said: “This is incredibly positive news and a welcome step forward for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma in Scotland. Patient representatives and the charity, Mesothelioma UK have worked incredibly hard to help secure this new treatment for mesothelioma patients. It’s absolutely vital that we see progress to develop and secure patient access to innovative new treatments and nivolumab and ipilimumab are positive examples of how that can be delivered.”

Patients in Scotland should speak to their healthcare team in the first instance about their suitability for the treatment and can find out more information at

New Clinical Nurse Specialist appointed to support patients in Essex

Sam Jayasekara has been appointed as a Mesothelioma UK Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) to provide nursing care and support for mesothelioma patients in Essex. The post is funded by asbestos disease support charity, HASAG. Sam will be based at the Broomfield Hospital...

Donation received from RS Oncology

RS Oncology, a clinical stage biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the US, donated to Mesothelioma UK to support the charity’s Clinical Nurse Specialist team. Liz Darlison, CEO of Mesothelioma UK added: “Our network of over 30 Clinical Nurse...