This article was taken from: https://inews.co.uk/news/health/ms-drug-nhs-ocrelizumab-patients-hope/
By Paul Gallagher at I news
Ocrelizumab is the first and only treatment that can slow disability progression in this type of MS, where symptoms gradually worsen.
The first ever treatment for early primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) will be made available on the NHS, a decision branded a “landmark moment” by the MS Society.
The charity launched a campaign after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) initially rejected ocrelizumab, the first and only treatment licensed in Europe for primary progressive MS, last September. It was considered too expensive for the benefits it can provide.
In clinical trials of the drug, people saw an average drop of 25 per cent in the risk of their disability getting worse. The treatment could also delay the need for a wheelchair by seven years.
The MS Society called on NICE, NHS England and the drug manufacturer Roche, to find a deal to allow access to the drug on the NHS. The campaign included a 21,000-strong petition and more than 3,000 people raising the issue with their local MP. The campaign was also backed by celebrities, healthcare professionals and cross-party politicians.
More than 100,000 people in the UK have MS and around 650 each year are diagnosed with the primary progressive form. Ocrelizumab is the first and only treatment that can slow disability progression in this type of MS, where symptoms gradually worsen over time.
It is licensed for early primary progressive MS, which is defined by how long someone has lived with MS symptoms, their level of disability, and MRI scans showing inflammatory activity.
Although the deal means ocrelizumab will be made available on the NHS in England – and only for certain people with the condition – Roche say there are plans to make the drug available on the NHS across the UK. The MS Society said this must be done “as soon as possible so nobody with MS who could benefit is left behind”.
Zoe Bowman, 43, and her sister Vikki Langford, 52, were diagnosed with MS within weeks of each other. They were both told by doctors there was nothing they could do.
Ms Bowman, from Crystal Palace, south London, said: “Now that there’s a treatment available that could work for me, I finally have a glimmer of hope for the future. Anything that could help me keep my independence for longer would have a massive impact.”
Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said: “This is a landmark moment and an incredible victory for the more than 21,000 of us who helped overturn this result. We now want to see everyone who could benefit from ocrelizumab being able to access it, with increased support for MS services to make sure this happens.
“Right now however there isn’t enough evidence to show ocrelizumab can work for everyone, and we know the restrictions will be a massive blow for those who still don’t have any options. We’re driving research to find more and better treatments, and calling for drug trials to more fully address the needs of everyone with MS, until the day we are able to stop it in its tracks.”