The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) in the U.K. issued its final decision, approving the inclusion of Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a) to treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in England within the National Health Service (NHS).
This decision follows a cost-effectiveness review done in May 2018, in which NICE recommended Biogen’s Avonex and Merck KGaA’s Rebif (both interferon beta-1a), Novartis’ Extavia (interferon beta-1b), and Teva’s Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) and its generic Brabio (glatiramer acetate; marketed by Mylan) be available through the NHS as RRMS treatments.
At the time, NICE said Plegridy, a Biogen therapy, would be assessed separately. Now, the final decision has been issued.
“The cost-effectiveness estimates for peginterferon beta-1a compared with other treatments for relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis, such as other beta interferons and glatiramer acetate, are in line with what NICE usually considers a cost-effective use of NHS resources,” NICE’s recommendation states. “Therefore, peginterferon beta-1a can be recommended.”
Plegridy is a form of interferon beta-1a (IFNb1a), a signaling molecule that helps to limit immune responses within the body. In people with MS, this can prevent the immune system from causing damage to neurons. In Plegridy, IFNb1a has been pegylated, a molecular alteration that allows IFNb1a to continue its effects in the body for longer, reducing the need for frequent dosing. In clinical trials, Plegridy has been shown to significantly decrease the rate of relapses compared to a placebo.
Guidance by NICE decides which treatments are funded by the NHS in the U.K. and made available to patients. By law, the NHS is obliged to fund medicines recommended by advisory bodies like NICE
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