A drug which can be used to treat primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) in adults has now been approved for use by the NHS.
It comes after an agreement between Ocrevus and NHS England on the terms of a new commercial agreement which will make the drug, ocrelizumab, available for the first time in England and Wales.
The news will give hope to thousands who are living with the condition in the UK. Up until now, only drugs for the non-primary progressive form of the disease – around 86 per cent of diagnoses – have been available to patients.
It means those with the primary progressive form of the disease can now begin receiving twice-yearly infusions of ocrelizumab, which delays the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as difficulty walking, fatigue and blurred vision, for as long as possible, although by how much and for how long are uncertain.
According to case studies, the drug has delayed the need for a wheelchair by up to seven years.
Commenting on the announcement, Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: “Our earlier draft guidance acknowledged that ocrelizumab represents an important development in the treatment of a condition for which there is a large unmet need.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.”
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, added: “This innovative deal shows that NHS England is successfully working with companies to make treatments available for patients who need them, through flexibility and thorough negotiation.”
Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition which affects around 90,000 people in the UK. For support and advice, please get in touch with our specialist health care team.