News that daclizumab, brand name Zinbryta, has been given the go-ahead to be available through the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) for treating relapsing MS, at least in part of the country, is good news. But why has the decision taken so long?
Possibly, because the first decision, last September, was ‘no.’
The latest decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) covers only England and Wales. Hopefully, similar announcements will be made for people in Scotland and Northern Ireland in coming months.
The decision means the NHS will have a legal obligation to provide the treatment to people with relapsing MS, whose health care professional prescribes it to them.
But there are conditions.
Patients must have either:
- “Active” relapsing MS that’s been treated with another disease-modifying treatment, or;
- “Rapidly evolving severe” MS (defined by at least two relapses in the previous year and an MRI scan showing new lesions)
And it will be available only to people who are unable or unwilling to take alemtuzumab.
Interestingly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zinbryta early last year and the European Medical Agency (EMA) followed suit in June, but it has taken another nine months for NICE to make up its mind. I find such a delay completely unacceptable.
Isn’t it time that countries around the world got together and presented a united front on new medications being brought out for the use of those of us who need them? Shouldn’t we consider such new treatments and give necessary approvals globally, not on a piecemeal basis, as we do now?
Of course, such revolutionary thinking is never likely to be taken seriously, as it would mean the dismantling of national organizations such as the FDA. Well, why not? On the other side of the Atlantic, there is one body that does the job for nearly 30 countries — the EMA.
If one organization can cover all Europe, why can’t an international one cover the whole world? Reducing the number of approval bodies should cut costs, too.
But it would need its decisions to include that medical insurance companies would have to pay for it to be provided to patients, and for it to be available through the NHS, without further consideration.
Could it work? Of course! Everything is possible. Will it ever happen? Not a chance
This article, written by me, was first published by Multiple Sclerosis News Today.
50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease/disorder-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.