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NHS to offer landmark multiple sclerosis drug after negotiating manufacturer’s price down

NHS England has reached a deal with a drug manufacturer to provide patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) with a “landmark” drug after NHS bosses pressured the company to lower its price.

Ocrelizumab will be the first available medicine that can modify or change the course of an early primary progressive form of the disease after NHS England struck a deal with manufacturer Roche, paving the way for its approval by NICE.

This comes after NICE rejected the drugs last September due to its high costs, which led to an outcry and a petition to reverse the decision signed by more than 20,000 people, with several MPs taking up the cause.

But NHS England said that after tough negotiations it had secured a commercial in confidence deal with Roche, which is in the range that NICE considers an acceptable use of NHS resources.

The ‘shelf’ price for ocrelizumab is £19,000 a year, but clinical trial results show that it can slow the worsening of disability in people with the condition to the extent that it can delay wheelchair use by seven years.

MS is a lifelong condition which affects the brain and spinal cord, and this new treatment will help those who have primary progressive multiple sclerosis where symptoms steadily increase over a period of months or years without periods of remission.

The innovative deal unlocks the final stage of NICE’s appraisal, and will allow the NHS to provide routine access to the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people who have the rare form of the disease.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Today the NHS is making a significant advance in the care of people living with multiple sclerosis.

“This latest innovative deal is further proof that companies willing to work flexibly with the NHS can secure a constructive partnership that benefits both patients and taxpayers.”

Access to world-class cutting-edge drugs is part of the NHS Long-Term, with NHS England now having more direct involvement with industry, working with NICE to help find deals for patients and taxpayers.

Previous negotiations between drug manufacturers and NHS England have led to patients getting access to several cancer and hepatitis C drugs after lower prices were agreed, although there is currently an ongoing dispute over the price of Orkambi which is used to treat cystic fibrosis.

Genevieve Edwards, from 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.”

Top image: Dominic Lipinski via PA 


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