Leukaemia Care successfully campaigns for a new treatment for patients with cytomegalovirus (CMV) in Scotland

Today, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has announced the approval of maribavir (Livtencity), a new medicine for adults with a post-transplant CMV infection that is resistant to current treatments.

Webpage last updated: 9th October 2023

How was Leukaemia Care involved in the decision to approve this treatment?

We are pleased to announce that the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) have also now decided to approve maribavir for use in Scotland, after it was approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in England in 2022.

Similar to our involvement in the NICE process in England, Leukaemia Care worked alongside the charity Anthony Nolan to gather data, patient experience and put together a written response that drew upon this evidence to the SMC before they made their decision.

We are very pleased that patients in Scotland now have equal access to maribavir as those in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 

What is the treatment for and which patients will have access to it?

Maribavir will be used for adult patients who develop CMV infection after undergoing either a haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) (where a patient receives a transplant from a donor) or a solid organ transplant (SOT).

Maribavir will be used to treat adults with a CMV infection that is resistant to one or more previous treatments currently available, including ganciclovir, valganciclovir, cidofovir, or foscarnet.

What is cytomegalovirus infection (CMV)?

CMV infection is a common virus and can affect almost anyone and is usually harmless. The majority of adults are chronically (permanently) infected with it, but the virus is ‘silent’ and does not cause any symptoms. 

However, for transplant patients, CMV infection can be a greater cause for concern. These patients receive immunosuppressive drugs, meaning the viral infection can become active as a result of their weakened immune system, potentially leading to serious complications.

Why is the approval of this treatment important for patients?

There are four common antiviral therapies that are mainly used to treat refractory CMV: valganciclovir, ganciclovir, foscarnet, and cidofovir.  These drugs are used off-label which means they have not been formally approved to treat patients with refractory CMV infection. Marbavir would be the first fully licensed therapy to treat CMV infection.

Three of the current treatments mentioned above are given intravenously (a needle into a vein) which is far more invasive and requires patients to attend hospital to receive the treatment. Maribavir is an oral treatment, meaning it is taken as a tablet. This can have  significant advantages to both patients and their family and/or carers. This would mean fewer  trips to hospital as the treatment can be taken at home, allowing patients to spend less time in a medical setting and save money normally spent on travelling to appointments.

How often would I need to take maribavir and how does it work?

Maribavir is taken as an oral tablet twice a day, without the need to eat first. It does not require a trip to the hospital and can be taken at home.

In patients with CMV infection, a viral protein called pUL97 helps the virus to reproduce and spread. Maribavir works by inhibiting this protein, which prevents the virus from growing, helping to reduce and eventually clear the infection.

If you have any further questions about the drug announcement, our team is here to help. Email them at advocacy@leukaemiacare.org.uk.

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