In a groundbreaking move, the United Kingdom’s publicly funded healthcare system, the NHS, is set to revolutionize cancer treatment by introducing a swift and convenient injection for cancer patients. This innovative approach is expected to significantly reduce treatment times by up to 75%.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has granted approval for this pioneering treatment. NHS England revealed its plans to administer “under the skin” injections of the immunotherapy drug Atezolizumab to eligible patients, thus freeing up valuable time for cancer care teams.
Faster & More Efficient HealthCare
Dr. Alexander Martin, a consultant oncologist at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, emphasized that this approval will improve patient convenience and enable medical teams to attend to more patients throughout the day.
Atezolizumab, also known as Tecentriq, is an immunotherapy drug developed by Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche. This drug empowers the patient’s immune system to target and eliminate cancerous cells.
Traditionally, patients have received Atezolizumab intravenously through an IV drip, a process that can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. However, the newly approved injection method takes merely around seven minutes, offering a substantial time-saving advantage.
NHS England expects a significant portion of the approximately 3,600 patients who start Atezolizumab treatment annually in England to adopt this time-efficient injection. Patients with certain types of cancers, such as lung, breast, liver, and bladder, are eligible for this treatment innovation.
Notably, patients undergoing intravenous chemotherapy in combination with Atezolizumab may continue with the intravenous method. This development positions patients in England as the world’s first recipients of a swift cancer treatment that effectively tackles the disease within seven minutes.
Innovation in Healthcare Services
Prof. Peter Johnson, NHS England’s national director for cancer, highlighted the significance of innovation in healthcare services, stating that this advancement allows patients to spend less time in hospitals while enhancing the efficiency of chemotherapy units.
The introduction of the faster treatment option comes without any additional cost due to the existing commercial agreement between NHS England and Roche, the drug’s manufacturer.
Marius Scholtz, the medical director of Roche, expressed his delight at NHS patients across England gaining access to this subcutaneous cancer immunotherapy injection. Studies have suggested that patients prefer subcutaneous treatment due to reduced pain, simpler administration, and shorter treatment durations compared to intravenous infusion.
Atezolizumab has already demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing the risk of cancer recurrence. Clinical trials showed that in early-stage non-small cell lung cancer patients, this treatment reduced the risk of cancer recurrence or death by 34% after surgery and chemotherapy.
How Atezolizumab Works?
The mechanism behind Atezolizumab involves blocking a protein that obstructs the immune system from targeting cancer cells, rendering the cancer cells more visible to the immune response.
Moreover, the UK’s capacity to assess medical devices has been bolstered by the addition of three approved bodies: TÜV SÜD, Intertek, and TÜV Rheinland UK. This expansion is anticipated to double the current assessment capacity, ensuring improved access to effective medical products for patients.
Dr. Laura Squire, the MHRA chief healthcare quality and access officer, noted that the increase in assessment capacity will contribute to patients accessing safe and effective medical devices vital for their health and well-being.