Patients in NHS Wales with a particular type of rectal cancer can now access a medicine that might prevent the need for invasive and life-changing surgery.
A One Wales Medicines decision to approve access to dostarlimab (Jemperli®) to treat locally advanced rectal cancers with a specific genetic mutation was endorsed by the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group and ratified by Welsh Government in August 2023.
'This is a fantastic outcome for the patients in Wales. To be the first country internationally to have access to this treatment as an option for this patient group is exciting. We will gain a huge amount of experience and data with using dostarlimab (Jemperli®) in this clinical setting to share with the global community.’
Dr Barrington, consultant clinical oncologist, Swansea Bay University Health Board
Dostarlimab (Jemperli®) is currently not licensed to treat any type of locally advanced rectal cancer. Until now it had only been available to NHS patients through individual patient funding requests. This One Wales decision means that all patients in NHS Wales who meet the criteria for treatment will be given the option to have dostarlimab (Jemperli®).
The particular type of rectal cancer is resistant to current chemotherapy. The usual treatment is radiotherapy followed by drastic surgery to remove part of the colon. This can be life-changing for patients, many of whom will have a life-long stoma.
Remarkable outcomes were reported in a small, single-centre study in the USA, where all patients treated with dostarlimab had no detectable cancer after treatment. Although these data are limited because the long-term outcomes are not yet known, the One Wales Medicines Assessment Group (OWMAG) decided that dostarlimab (Jemperli®) should be available as an option for patients in Wales, because it might prevent the need for life-changing surgery.
The One Wales Medicines decision is interim, and will be reviewed after twelve months. This allows OWMAG to consider new, longer-term evidence; for example, if patients remain cancer-free in the years after treatment.
The One Wales Medicines process allows patients in NHS Wales to receive treatments that would not usually be available to them, and ensures that all patients in Wales have equitable access to the most effective medicines at the earliest opportunity.
Read the full One Wales Medicines decision for dostarlimab (Jemperli®) here.
More about the One Wales Medicines process, including a new video explaining how the process works is available at https://awttc.nhs.wales/accessing-medicines/access-to-medicines-in-wales/one-wales-medicines-process/