New treatment approved for women with relapsed ovarian cancer in Scotland

09 March 2020
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Today, the Scottish Medicine Consortium (SMC) announced that the maintenance treatment rucaparib (also known by its brand name, Rubraca®) is now available to certain ovarian cancer patients on the NHS in Scotland.

The drug prevents cancer from getting worse and has been shown to extend the period of relapse-free time patients have until the next chemotherapy treatment.  

Rucaparib can now be used to treat patients in Scotland with relapsed, advanced, high grade (fast-growing) ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancers, who have responded to standard platinum-based chemotherapy. It's only available to women who do not have a BRCA gene mutation. 

“Many women with relapsed ovarian cancer have to go through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, often with horrible side-effects. Having access to a drug that delays the disease from developing has the potential to make a big difference to patients’ quality of life. This is a great development that we hope many women in Scotland will be able to benefit from.” – Cary Wakefield, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Action.

The drug is given to patients after they respond to primary treatment (in this case, platinum-based chemotherapy) to help maintain that response. Rucaparib (a PARP inhibitor) works by stopping a protein called PARP from helping to repair damaged DNA. Healthy cells can find other ways to repair themselves but cancer cells cannot, which means the damaged DNA in their cells can’t be repaired and cause the cancer cells to die. 

The SMC’s decision to approve rucaparib follows the one made by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in October 2019, which made the drug available to women with relapsed ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer on the NHS in England. 

If you would like to read more about the SMC decision and what it means for patients, you can find their summary here.

Find out more about the research your support helps fund at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre into recurrent ovarian cancer and chemo-resistance.