MS sufferers in UK to benefit from world's first drug

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Theres good news for multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers in the UK after a new drug treatment for the condition has been recommended for patients by the...

There’s good news for multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers in the UK after a new drug treatment for the condition has been recommended for patients by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

NICE has approved the use fingolimod – otherwise known by its brand name of Gilenya – and says it should be made available to thousands of patients through the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Fingolimod is the world’s first pill-based treatment for MS – up until now the market has been dominated by interferon injections.

The drug has been approved for use in patients with active cases of RRMS (relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis), as it is able to significantly reduce the occurrence of relapses, by 50-60 percent.

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It reportedly works by preventing the body’s immune system from attacking nerves in the brain and spinal cord.

NICE had previously ruled out the use of the drug on the NHS, saying that although it worked, it was too expensive.

But the pill’s manufacturer, Novartis, agreed to discount the price of fingolimod and now the NICE guidance is in its final form.

Prior to the discount, the drug was expected to cost somewhere in the region of £20,000 a year per patient.

Commenting on the news, Professor Carole Longson, the Director of the Health Technology Evaluation Centre at NICE said: “The latest draft guidance from our committee recommends the NHS-use of fingolimod for a specific group of adults who have highly active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

“Following new information provided during the consultation, the analyses show that for these people, treatment with fingolimod will be a cost effective option for the NHS in this group of people with multiple sclerosis, if Novartis provides the drug at a discounted price, as proposed in its patient access scheme.

“We have published the latest version of our draft guidance on our website so that interested parties can highlight any factual errors or appeal against our final draft recommendations.”

The MS Trust asks how can fingolimod (Gilenya) benefit MS sufferers?

The Healthcare Global magazine is now available on the iPad. Click here to download it.

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