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Chronic pain patch and skin infection treatment approved for use in Scotland

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A type of patch to ease pain has been approved for use by the health service in Scotland along with several other treatments including an antibiotic for skin infections.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium has accepted a buprenorphine skin patch, marketed as Butec, for use in patients aged over 65 years old with chronic pain that is not associated with cancer.

“Buprenorphine skin patches will provide a further treatment option”

Jonathan Fox

Buprenorphine is a painkiller that can be used to treat moderate chronic pain. The patch, which is applied to the skin once a week, offers an alternative to oral treatment options, said the SMC.

The consortium noted that buprenorphine weekly patches were found in studies not to be inferior to twice daily oral tramadol in patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritic pain.

The patches, plus oral paracetamol, were also found to be non-inferior to co-codamol in patients with severe osteoarthritic pain when used on a weekly basis.

SMC chair Professor Jonathan Fox said: “Buprenorphine skin patches will provide a further treatment option for moderate chronic pain in some patients.”

The consortium has also accepted dalbavancin (Xydalba) for the treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections in adults.

Dalbavancin is an intravenous antibiotic and can be used to treat infections such as cellulitis, skin abscesses and wound infections.

The treatment was originally accepted by the SMC back in October 2015, but its decision could not be published until after the product became available for use in NHS Scotland in November.

It has been approved for second-line use or when a MRSA infection is suspected, or on the advice of local microbiologists or specialists in infectious disease.

It can also be given when a patient is initially admitted due to acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections that require intravenous antibiotics, but are eligible for early discharge as soon as their condition does not require further inpatient treatment.

Other treatment approvals announced by the SMC:

  • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for the treatment of late-stage non-small cell lung cancer
  • Deferasirox (Exjade) for treatment of an excess of iron in the body resulting from frequent blood transfusions in some patients with a rare blood disorder known as Myelodysplastic Syndrome
  • Elbasvir-grazoprevir (Zepatier) for the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C
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