NICE Approves Plegridy as RRMS Treatment Offered by NHS England

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by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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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’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.

The medication was previously approved for RRMS treatment in Scotland and Wales.

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

“We are pleased that NICE has approved Plegridy for people with relapsing-remitting MS,” David Martin, CEO of the MS Trust, said in a press release.

The MS Trust aims to help people in the U.K. with MS, and to support access to MS specialist services. According to the press release, the MS Trust “contributed throughout the process” to obtain NICE’s approval of Plegridy. The Trust generally advocates for more effective therapies to be available to people with MS.

“We were able to make a strong case to NICE thanks to those of you who told us about your experiences of taking this treatment, and the importance of having a greater choice of disease-modifying drugs,” Martin said.

Plegridy is given by an injection under the skin (subcutaneous injection) on the stomach, upper arm, or thigh once every 14 days.

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