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Scotland Gives First UK Approval for BMS's Opdivo for Head and Neck Cancer


Bristol-Myers Squibb today announced that NHS patients in Scotland will be the first in the UK to access its cancer immunotherapy Opdivo (nivolumab) for advanced head and neck cancer.   The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has issued guidance recommending nivolumab for use in adult patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), whose cancer has progressed on or after platinum-based therapy. Historically, this cancer has been notoriously difficult-to-treat, but a pivotal Phase III trial of nivolumab showed that more than double the number of patients on treatment were alive at one-year compared to chemotherapy, demonstrating the biggest increase in survival in 20 years.   Dr. Derek Grose, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Beatson, Glasgow, Scotland, commented: “Nivolumab is the first recent treatment to show increased survival rates in clinical trials compared to current standard therapy and just as crucially, it can provide an improvement in quality of life. This marks today’s SMC decision as a significant step forward in how we treat this disease.”   Benjamin Hickey, General Manager, Bristol-Myers Squibb UK and Ireland, said: “We are pleased that nivolumab has been recommended for use in this cancer, marking the seventh approval of this innovative medicine by the SMC. Today’s decision means NHS Scotland is leading the way in access to nivolumab within the UK. Our goal is to work with other health reimbursement bodies to ensure access is consistent across the UK as quickly as possible.”