A final and weighty opinion regarding whether Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) will be among treatments available at low or no cost to primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) patients in England and Wales — through the National Health Service (NHS) — has been put on hold, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.
The “final guidance” from The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which evaluates treatments that might enter the U.K.’s public health system, was expected to recommend against Ocrevus’ inclusion for this MS patient group on Oct. 31.
NICE, whose opinions here become policy, postponed any action pending the outcome of ongoing talks between Ocrevus’ developer, Genentech, and NHS England, the MS Trust reported on its website. No date was given for an announcement.
NICE sets up healthcare guidelines and standards in the U.K., and assesses for cost-effectiveness treatments to be made available to patients using the NHS, the subsidized, public-funded health system in the U.K.
Ocrevus, a monoclonal antibody marketed by Genentech, a Roche subsidiary, is currently the only available treatment for both relapsing and primary progressive MS forms. In England and Wales, it is available through the NHS for RRMS patients.
NICE first announced that it opposed public funding of Ocrevus for PPMS in July. It acknowledged at the time that Ocrevus can be of benefit to these patients, but ruled that its cost was out of line with the value it offered.
The MS Trust campaigned against that opinion, surveying PPMS patients regarding their disease and its impact, and sharing the experiences they reported with NICE.
According to the MS Trust, NICE’s decision to put its final opinion on hold — with no new announcement date set — shows a possible willingness by both Genentech and NHS England to reach a compromise.
“Access to ocrelizumab for people living with PPMS would be a very welcome outcome to this further review, but we recognise that there are many factors which can influence the final decision,” said David Martin, chief executive of MS Trust.
“It is not yet clear how long, or what process will need to be followed,” Martin added, “but it appears that access to a treatment which can slow down the progression of MS may have moved a step closer.”