OVARIAN cancer sufferers in Scotland with one of the most aggressive forms of the disease will be the first in the UK to receive a new medication on the NHS.

Cancer drug bevacizumab, known by its brand name Avastin, has been approved for routine use on the NHS in Scotland by the medicines watchdog, Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

It is the first time Avastin has been approved for routine use on the NHS anywhere in the UK.

The SMC has approved the use of Avastin in combination with paclitaxel chemotherapy as a treatment for women with recurrent ovarian cancer that is resistant to platinum-containing chemotherapy, one of the most difficult forms of the disease to treat.

The recommendation is based on clinical trial data showing that Avastin coupled with chemotherapy nearly doubled the time patients can survive without the disease worsening, from an average of 3.4 to 6.7 months.

Professor Nick Reed, consultant clinical oncologist at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow, said: “The treatment of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer is one of the most challenging conditions in managing gynaecological cancers.

"The exciting announcement from SMC that will allow the use of Avastin in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer is a most welcome and positive development and will allow women in Scotland access to a previously unavailable drug.

"Until now the options for this group of patients have been very limited and generally of low effectiveness. This is a positive development.”

Around 615 women a year in Scotland are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Katherine Taylor, Chief Executive of charity Ovarian Cancer Action, added: "We applaud the SMC for ensuring that patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, the most difficult type to treat, will have access to Avastin in Scotland.”

The SMC also approved bortezomib (velcade) to treat the rare and aggressive blood cancer, mantle cell lymphoma, and ledipasvir-sofosbuvir (harvoni) to treat a type of chronic hepatitis C.

However, the SMC rejected elosulfase alfa (vimizim), used to treat bone deforming condition Morquio A Syndrome, and erectile dysfunction drug avanafil (spedra).

The benefits of elosulfase alfa were considered too uncertain in relation to its cost while avanafil was regarded as poor value for money.

SMC chairman Professor Jonathan Fox said: "While elosulfase alfa has the potential to improve quality of life in the short-term, the case presented by the company was not robust enough to convince the committee about the longer-term benefits when balanced against its extremely high cost."