People with a rare form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) will finally have routine access to a drug that can slow the disease’s progression after the manufacturer agreed to lower the price.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved the drug, ocrelizumab, after a deal was struck between NHS England and Roche, which manufacturers it under the name Ocrevus.
The decision was hailed as a “landmark moment” by the MS Society, which launched a campaign after the NICE initially rejected the drug, the first and only treatment licensed in Europe for the primary progressive MS (PPMS), last September, after considering it too expensive for the benefits it can provide.
Following a new deal, an estimated 2,700 patients will now be eligible to obtain Ocrevus on the NHS.
Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: “Our earlier draft guidance acknowledged that ocrelizumab represents an important development in the treatment of a condition for which there is a large unmet need.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.”
Clinical trial results show that the drug can slow the worsening of disability in people with the condition, helping patients stay able and active for longer.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England said: “Today the NHS is making a significant advance in the care of people living with multiple sclerosis. This latest innovative deal is further proof that companies willing to work flexibly with the NHS can secure a constructive partnership that benefits both patients and taxpayers.”
Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said: “This is a revolutionary development for people with Multiple Sclerosis – this treatment has the power to slow down the condition so people can live longer, more independent and active lives. I believe access to this treatment will give patients and families fresh hope for happier and healthier futures.
“Through our Long Term Plan, we want all patients to have access to the most pioneering, value for money medicines – this is a great example of how we can work with industry to get treatments to patients as quickly as possible.”