After first rejecting it due to cost-effectiveness concerns, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has now approved the use of Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) for people in the U.K. with early, inflammatory primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS).
This means that PPMS patients living in the U.K. will now have access to Ocrevus treatment through the country’s National Health Service (NHS).
To be eligible for treatment, patients must comply with three criteria: having experienced PPMS symptoms for 15 years or less; being able to walk at least 20 meters (about 65 feet) with or without assistance (which means having an EDSS score of up to 6.5); and having signs of disease activity on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
Initially, the decision will only apply to England. In the meantime, Genentech, a member of the Roche group — Ocrevus’ manufacturer — will work closely with the NHS in Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Scottish Medicines Consortium in Scotland, to ensure Ocrevus becomes available in all of the U.K.
Ocrevus is the first approved NHS treatment for PPMS in the U.K., a landmark decision made possible only with the collective effort, and dedication, of MS support organizations, including the MS Trust, patients and physicians, a trust official said.
After the initial rejection, the final decision was postponed to allow further discussions between NICE, the NHS and Roche.
Before preparing its submission to NICE, the MS Trust conducted a survey of nearly 500 respondents, including MS patients, family members and MS specialists, gathering opinions from those affected by the disease as to whether Ocrevus should be approved as an NHS treatment.
“But we know this is just the start. More treatments for progressive MS are still desperately needed, and we will continue to fight to ensure everyone with MS can access the treatments they need,” Martin added.
Yvonne Pettigrew, a patient diagnosed with PPMS, said about this approval: “I can’t tell you how exciting it is to have the first drug to treat PPMS, Ocrevus, approved for use within the NHS. I know there are of course strict constraints governing the people Ocrevus can be prescribed for which come from the research evidence of who can benefit, but I’m desperately hoping I am one of them. Control of my deterioration will give me optimism about a future I hadn’t dared dream about.”
The NHS in England now will have three months to prepare before it starts funding the treatment for all eligible PPMS patients receiving Ocrevus prescriptions from their doctors.