By John Ensor •
Published: 31 Aug 2023 • 20:26
The NHS is set to be the first in the world to administer a ground-breaking anti-cancer injection that reduces treatment time by up to 75 per cent.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) gave the go-ahead on August 29, 2023, paving the way for NHS England to introduce this innovative treatment to hundreds of patients annually.
Traditionally, patients have been receiving the life-prolonging immunotherapy drug atezolizumab (Tencentriq) through intravenous transfusion in hospitals. This process usually takes around half an hour, but for some, it can extend to an hour due to difficulties in accessing a vein.
In a matter of weeks, hundreds of qualifying patients will transition from the intravenous method to a quicker and more comfortable subcutaneous injection. This change will free up crucial time for NHS cancer care teams.
Atezolizumab is an immunotherapy medication that enables a patient’s own immune system to target and eliminate cancer cells. It is currently provided to NHS patients for various types of cancer, including lung, breast, liver, and bladder.
It is expected that the majority of the roughly 3,600 patients who start atezolizumab treatment each year in England will switch to this time-efficient injection. However, those receiving intravenous chemotherapy alongside atezolizumab may continue with the transfusion.
NHS National Director for Cancer Professor Peter Johnson said: ‘The world-first introduction of this treatment will mean that hundreds of patients can spend less time at the hospital and will free up valuable time in NHS chemotherapy units.’
‘Maintaining the best possible quality of life for cancer patients is vital, so the introduction of faster under-the-skin injections will make an important difference,’ Professor Johnson added.
Dr Alexander Martin, a consultant oncologist at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘This is great news for both patients and clinicians. We welcome any new initiative that brings speedier treatment to patients and gives them more comfortable care.’
The expedited treatment comes at no additional cost to the NHS, thanks to an existing commercial agreement between NHS England and pharmaceutical company Roche.
Marius Scholtz, Medical Director, Roche Products Limited said: ‘We are delighted that NHS patients across England have access to the subcutaneous PD-L1 cancer immunotherapy injection, Tecentriq.’
This rapid adoption of medical advancements by the NHS follows last month’s new guidelines to optimise medicine use across the health service. The NHS is also on track to save £7bn by year-end due to a five-year drug pricing agreement with the pharmaceutical sector.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Share this story
Subscribe to our Euro Weekly News alerts to get the latest stories into your inbox!
By signing up, you will create a Euro Weekly News account if you don't already have one. Review our
Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
Download our media pack in either English or Spanish.