NHS England is setting a global precedent as it becomes the first healthcare system worldwide to offer a seven-minute subcutaneous injection for cancer treatment, radically cutting conventional treatment times by up to 75%. The groundbreaking immunotherapy, known as atezolizumab or Tecentriq, received formal approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and will be available to hundreds of eligible patients, freeing up considerable time and resources for oncology teams.
Dr. Alexander Martin, a consultant oncologist at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, lauded the swift approval: “This monumental leap forward in cancer care not only makes the treatment more convenient for patients but also significantly boosts the capacity of our medical teams to treat additional patients throughout the day.” Previously, atezolizumab had to be administered intravenously — a process requiring up to an hour for some patients, particularly when veins were difficult to access.
Manufactured by Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche, the transformative atezolizumab drug boosts a patient’s own immune system to identify and eradicate cancer cells. Marius Scholtz, Medical Director at Roche Products Limited, pointed out the stark contrast between the traditional and new methods: “The subcutaneous injection takes approximately seven minutes, a fraction of the 30 to 60 minutes typically needed for intravenous infusion.”
NHS England estimates that the majority of the approximately 3,600 patients beginning atezolizumab treatment annually will transition to the new, time-efficient injection. The treatment is applicable to a variety of cancer types, including lung, breast, liver, and bladder. However, it is noted that patients who are also receiving intravenous chemotherapy in tandem with atezolizumab may continue with the longer, transfusion-based treatment.