Manufacturers of three relapsing multiple sclerosis drugs have cut prices to remain available to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). They are all diseases modifying therapies (DMTs).
In January, I brought you news that five such drugs were under threat, having been found to be not cost-effective as long-term therapy options. In a draft recommendation from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). NICE’s role is to provide national guidance and advice to improve health and social care. The NHS in England is legally obliged to fund medicines recommended by NICE, while other parts of the UK have their own approval procedures.
In that draft recommendation, only Extavia (interferon beta 1b) was given the green light. Now, though, the cut prices mean that three more drugs are considered cost-effective. These are:
- Biogen’s Avonex(interferon beta-1a)
- Merck KGaA‘s Rebif (interferon beta-1a)
- Teva’s Copaxone (glatiramer acetate)
Although details of the cut prices have not been disclosed, I am delighted that the drugs will now continue to be available to those that need them.
The two medications that NICE is still, as yet, proposing to make unavailable to people who are newly diagnosed, or want to change their treatments, are:
- Betaferon (interferon beta-1b)
- Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a)
Grateful for cut prices
NICE director of the centre for health technology evaluation, Meindert Boysen, said: “This is good news for people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. We are grateful that the companies have been able to agree reductions to the NHS prices of these drugs so they can be made routinely available and ensure that people continue to benefit from a choice of treatment.
“Multiple sclerosis is lifelong condition that can have a negative impact on people’s ability to work, and to engage in social and family life. Having treatments that can delay the progression of the disease is important to help patients get back to their normal lives.”
MS Society head of policy, Phillip Anderson, welcomed NICE’s latest position. He said: “People with MS told us what restricted drug options would mean for them and we’re delighted NICE has listened.
“This decision means people can continue to access a wide range of MS treatments. It’s vital that individuals have that choice, so they can find what best suits their needs and lifestyles.
“This is a great outcome and we’ll keep working to make sure everyone with MS can get the right treatment at the right time.”
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.
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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor, so cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.