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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved a new therapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
NHS pharmacists in England and Wales will soon be able to start prescribing ocrelizumab, also known as Ocrevus, as a treatment for relapsing remitting MS for patients who are experiencing relapses or new areas of MS activity, and are unable to benefit from treatment with alemtuzumab (Lemtrada).
The ruling from the UK health regulator reverses an earlier decision that opted against recommending ocrelizumab for this indication. This was met with opposition from organisations such as the MS Trust, which argued that ocrelizumab would be a valuable additional treatment for relapsing remitting MS patients and for the NHS.
Following this reversal, the NHS in England and Wales has three months in which to prepare for prescribing the drug. The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) is also currently reviewing ocrelizumab for the same indication, with a decision set to be published on July 9th.
Jo Sopala, director of development of the MS Trust, said: "We are pleased that NICE has reversed its earlier decision and has now approved ocrelizumab as a treatment for relapsing remitting MS in England and Wales.
"It further expands the range of relapsing MS treatments by offering a different dosing schedule, a different mode of action, minimal monitoring and a low risk of side effects compared to existing disease-modifying drugs."
Both NICE and the SMC are also in the process of evaluating ocrelizumab as a potential NHS-approved treatment for primary progressive forms of MS, with the MS Trust having contributed to this process. An initial decision from NICE is expected in the coming weeks, while the SMC is set to commence its formal appraisal process later this year.
Written by James Puckle
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