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By Selina McKee
NHS England has approved routine funding for a stream of new specialised treatments, including stroke-reducing heart implants and a life changing surgical procedure for children with cerebral palsy.
It says hundreds of patients each year will benefit from a procedure called left atrial appendage occlusion, which cuts the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat), who cannot take blood thinning medication.
Also approved is selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), which aims to relieve tight and stiff muscles in patients – particularly children – with cerebral palsy sufferers. The procedure, which involves operating on the nerves in the spine, can improve mobility for children previously unable to walk.
A surgical procedure to relieve the intense pain of chronic pancreatitis will now be available on the NHS, under which the pancreas is removed but some of its hormone producing cells are transplanted into the patient’s liver where they continue to produce the insulin necessary for blood sugar control.
Elsewhere, patients with haemophilia stand to benefit from two new cutting edge treatments: Roche’s Hemlibra (emicizumab), which “works in a new way to other treatments for bleeding disorders and represents a major breakthrough in treatment for this medical field,” according to NHS England; and susoctocog alfa for acquired haemophilia A, “a new lifesaving treatment which is proved to be highly effective in acute circumstances – such as on the operating table – when other drugs have not worked”.
Other treatments now funded on the NHS include: teriparatide for osteoporosis in men; anakinra/tocilizumab for the treatment of Adult-Onset Still’s Disease; anakinra to treat periodic fevers and autoinflammatory diseases; keratoprosthesis for corneal blindness; bendamustine/rituximab for first line treatment of advanced indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and for relapsed and refractory mantle cell lymphoma; and Amryt’s Lojuxta (lomitapide) for treating homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia.
“This is fantastic news for patients and their families,” said Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England. “The new treatments that will be available on the NHS are the kind of innovations that the National Health Service has been delivering for the last 70 years and will continue to do so in the years to come.”