The health service usually follows the institute’s recommendations. So NICE’s endorsement means there is a good chance the health service will begin covering the Extavia prescriptions that doctors write for patients with relapsing forms of MS.
The price discounts that Extavia’s manufacturer, Novartis, agreed to will make it a cost-effective option for relapsing-remitting MS patients or secondary progressive MS patients who continue to have relapses.
About 85 percent of Britain’s MS population has the relapsing-remitting form of the disease, which is less severe. In this type, patients have attacks of new or worsening neurological symptoms, which then fade away either partially or completely.
Many people with relapsing-remitting MS progress to secondary progressive MS, meaning they experience a sustained build-up of disability.
Extavia, or interferon beta-1b, reduces the number of relapsing MS flare-ups, clinical trials have shown. It also delays the progression of the disease.
Patients inject themselves with the therapy once every 48 hours.
“Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition that can limit people’s ability to work, and to engage in social and family life,” Carole Longson, director of NICE’s center for health technology evaluation, said in a news release. “Being able to delay the progression of the disease is important to help patients get back to their normal lives. We are delighted that Novartis” has agreed to a price reduction for Extavia “to allow it to be made routinely available to people with this type of multiple sclerosis.”
Without a discount, Extavia costs a patient about £7,259 — or $9,722 — a year. Neither Novartis nor the health service would say what the discounted price will be.
NICE considered the cost of a number of other MS therapies too high for the benefits they offer, so it decided against recommending them. These medications include glatiramer acetate, marketed as Copaxone, and the beta interferons Avonex, Betaferon, Plegridy and Rebif.
“We are keen to work with the companies for the other drugs to ensure that patients continue to benefit from a choice in treatment for multiple sclerosis,” Longson said.
The public will have access to NICE’s recommendation at this link until Jan. 24, 2018.