Today, it has been accepted! The first drug approved through the Early Access to Medicine Scheme (EAMS), named pembrolizumab, is an immunotherapy treatment for advanced melanoma. The treatment has been developed by Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, with early development work carried out using MRC Technology’s antibody humanization expertise.
EAMS is a new NHS system that enables drugs to be fast-tracked to patients. The scheme has been set up to give severely ill patients rapid access to promising unlicensed medicines, meaning that this drug is available to be prescribed to patients much earlier than it would normally have been before EAMS was established. Now, the first drug approved using this platform, is accessible for UK patients who need it.
Pembrolizumab is considered a next generation drug in cancer care, stimulating the body’s immune system to fight the disease. The therapeutic is one of a new generation of PD-1 (programmed cell death protein 1) therapies that block the biological pathways cancers use to disguise themselves from the immune system.