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Welcome for MS drug u-turn

Thursday May 9th, 2019

The first drug to slow the development of primary progressive multiple sclerosis is set to be supported for use in the NHS, it was announced today.

Regulators reversed their opposition to the introduction of ocrelizumab after its manufacturers agreed to drop its price.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says its guidance remains in draft form. It says that the drug slows the advance of this form of MS but by how much and for how long remains "uncertain."

It says that the cost of the drug now compares well with the cost of providing supportive care for these patients.

The news was welcomed by the MS Society, which has campaigned for the drug to be approved.

The treatment could be offered to 2,700 people and it currently costs more than £19,000 a year per patient. Treatment is given twice a year.

Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: “Our earlier draft guidance acknowledged that ocrelizumab represents an important development in the treatment of a condition for which there is a large unmet need. Unfortunately, we couldn’t recommend it at the price offered at that time because it did not represent a cost-effective use of limited NHS resources.

“We are therefore pleased that NHS England and the company have been able to reach an agreement that will see this important new treatment made available to thousands of people with this form of MS.”

Genevieve Edwards, Director of External Affairs at the MS Society, said: “This is a landmark moment and an incredible victory for the more than 21,000 of us who helped overturn this result. We now want to see everyone who could benefit from ocrelizumab being able to access it, with increased support for MS services to make sure this happens.

“Right now, however there isn’t enough evidence to show ocrelizumab can work for everyone, and we know the restrictions will be a massive blow for those who still don't have any options."

Tags: Brain & Neurology | NHS | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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