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Thalidomide approved in Scotland for treating multiple myeloma cancer

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Thalidomide has been approved in Scotland for treating the rare bone marrow cancer multiple myeloma, nearly 50 years after it as withdrawn because of its links to birth defects.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium last week accepted thalidomide (Thalidomide Pharmion) in combination with melphalan and prednisone, as first line treatment for patients with untreated multiple myeloma in patient over 65.

The drug, which is expected to cost NHS Scotland around £3m per annum, was famously withdrawn from the UK in 1961.

But last April the European Medicines Agency recommended it for multiple myeloma after trial data showed that adding thalidomide to melphalan and prednisone increased survival by 18.4 months in patients aged 65 to 75.

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