World First As NHS Roll Out Seven Minute Cancer Jab

NHS England Lead The Way In Cancer Treatment


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.

A Leap In Treatment Efficiency

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.

A Range of Applications

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.’

Quality Of Life And Efficiency

‘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.’

Cost-Effective Innovation

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.’

A Continuing Trend

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.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.