The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has accepted MSD’s PREVYMIS®▼ (letermovir) for use within NHS Scotland for prophylaxis of cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation and disease in adult CMV-seropositive recipients [R+] of an allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).
HSCT can be a life-saving treatment for a range of different diseases including certain cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma. A typical HSCT regimen can however weaken the immune system, allowing for the reactivation of CMV in infected individuals.
Approximately 50-80% of adults in the UK are thought to be infected with CMV – a common member of the herpes family of viruses – and, once infected, it often persists in the body in an inactive or latent state, typically causing no symptoms.
For CMV infected patients undergoing an allogeneic HSCT (where the transplanted stem cells originate from a donor), it is reported that up to 50% experience CMV reactivation due to their compromised immunity, placing them at an increased risk of serious complications and potentially increased mortality.
Letermovir is a member of a new class of drugs called non-nucleoside CMV inhibitors. Taken orally, it works by inhibiting the ability of the CMV virus to replicate within the body.
The SMC’s decision to accept letermovir for use means that specialist doctors in Scotland will now have the funding option of initiating this preventative therapy in appropriate patients.
Chloe Anthias, Medical Director of Anthony Nolan, which manages a register of over 700,000 potential stem cell donors, said: “This is great news for stem cell transplant patients in Scotland. The current treatments for CMV reactivation can have a very negative effect on quality of life, but the SMC decision represents a significant step forward.”
Dr Mike England, Medical Director at MSD said “As a company that is committed to addressing the impact of infectious disease, we are incredibly proud that this medicine has been accepted for use in Scottish patients. Our priority now is to look to facilitate equitable access across the UK.”