Scotland unlocks drug for breast cancer treatment

Scotland has become the first part of the United Kingdom to make a drug routinely available on the NHS that can extend the lives of women with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

For every day that passes without access to PrEP, 17 more people are being diagnosed with HIV.

About 100 patients a year will be offered Kadcyla, an intravenous drug that can add nine months to the lives of women with incurable breast cancer.

Watty Gaffney began taking Prep in January and says it seemed "a natural way to move forward" to protect his health.

There must be no more delays in England or Wales, and I hope with all my heart that Scotland's bold decision to provide PrEP on the NHS to people who are at risk of HIV will pave the way for more progress across the UK.

Waverley Care chief executive Grant Sugden said: "This is a ground-breaking decision that has the potential to reduce new HIV infections and also improve the quality of life of at-risk communities in Scotland".

Campaigners are hopeful that it will eventually be available through the NHS England to anyone who feels they are at risk of contracting HIV, but this is not certain. It can now be used as a vital tool in our HIV prevention armoury - alongside condom use, regular testing and early treatment - to help bring an end to HIV transmission in Scotland.

Currently, there are around 95 new cases of HIV in Northern Ireland every year, with the PrEP treatment costing around £400 per person per month.

Campaigners who had fought for the drug to be made available welcomed the decision, saying Scotland had "made history".

"It is cost-effective for those at the highest risk and is one of the best evidence-based tools for reducing onward HIV transmission", she said. The disease modifying treatment drug can reduce the frequency of relapses and the progression of disability, and can be self-administered by the patient as a monthly injection.

For the treatment of plaque psoriasis, SMC has approved ixekizumab (Taltz) for patients who did not respond to standard therapies.

Kadcyla, widely considered the biggest breakthrough treatment in the past decade, has been available to women in England for almost three years through the temporary Cancer Drugs Fund.

The drug may be used together with aspirin to prevent problems caused by blood clots and hardening of the arteries, and is now approved for up to one year after a heart attack.

"We were not able to accept ticagrelor for use in this setting as there were concerns about the relative safety of the clinical benefits it might offer".

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: "One of my first questions as an MSP was about whether PrEP will be adopted". We are also grateful to HIV Scotland and the many other organisations and individuals who have tirelessly campaigned and enabled this decision to happen.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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