7th October 2019

Another lung cancer treatment approved for NHS patients in Scotland

View all Treatment

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has confirmed that another immunotherapy treatment in combination with conventional chemotherapy drugs is to be made available on the NHS in Scotland for patients with an advanced stage of the most common form of lung cancer.

This decision means that all eligible patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in Scotland will now be able to access pembrolizumab, which also has the trade name Keytruda, as their first-line treatment, excluding patients whose tumour has specific gene mutations.

The SMC has accepted pembrolizumab in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of metastatic non-squamous NSCLC in adults whose tumours have no EGFR or ALK+ mutations, and either do not produce PD-L1 or produce low levels of PD-L1, or where it is not possible measure how much PD-L1 their tumours produce.

Treatment with pembrolizumab is subject to a two-year clinical stopping rule.

The SMC decision comes after data from trials showed that pembrolizumab, in combination with pemetrexed and platinum-based chemotherapy, showed an overall survival benefit compared with pemetrexed and platinum-based chemotherapy alone.

It takes into account the benefits of a Patient Access Scheme (PAS) that improves the cost-effectiveness of pembrolizumab.

Our response to the Scottish Medicines Consortium’s decision:

“We are delighted by the SMC’s decision. It means that now more patients with NSCLC can access this beneficial treatment option, which offers another way to live well with lung cancer for longer.

“We see this as a huge step forward. Scotland has had one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the world and approximately nine out of ten patients with lung cancer have NSCLC.

“New treatment options like this are having a huge impact on people’s lives. They are keeping families together for longer and we will continue to campaign for more access to these life-lengthening treatments.”


About pembrolizumab

Pembrolizumab is an immunotherapy, a type of lung cancer treatment that stimulates the immune system to fight the cancer.

Some cancer cells produce proteins that switch off certain immune cells (T-cells). Pembrolizumab attaches to these T-cells, which stops the cancer switching them off, and helps the immune system fight the cancer.