Ponvory Now Available in Scotland at Low or No Cost Through NHS
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has recommended that Ponvory (ponesimod) be offered through the National Health Service (NHS) Scotland to people with active, relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
The decision means that the oral therapy will be available at low or no cost to patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), and active secondary progressive MS (SPMS).
“It’s very welcome that ponesimod has been approved for use on the NHS in Scotland,” Morna Simpkins, Scotland director at the U.K.’s MS Society, said in a press release.
“We have never been closer to stopping MS, and this is just the latest in a number of new treatments which have been made available in the past few years for the 15,000 people living with MS in Scotland,” she added.
Scotland’s resolution to make Ponvory available through the country’s public health system follows a recent decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) against the inclusion of Ponvory to the NHS of England and Wales for the same indication.
Following NICE’s announcement, the MS Society launched a campaign to encourage the agency to reconsider its position. That campaign highlighted the views of patients and healthcare professionals, who advocated for the medication’s offering as a covered MS treatment.
The decision is now being reviewed by NICE, and the MS Society expects that Scotland’s decision will increase pressure over England and Wales to change its initial position.
“We hope that appraisal bodies in other parts of the UK follow suit as soon as possible [in approving the therapy], so everyone with MS can access ponesimod if it is the right option for them,” Simpkins said.
Ponvory is a selective S1P1 immunomodulator designed to “trap” immune cells inside immune organs called lymph nodes, which prevent these immune cells from going into the nervous system and causing damaging inflammation.
A total of 1,133 people with RRMS and active SPMS enrolled in OPTIMUM and were randomly assigned to receive Ponvory or Aubagio (teriflunomide) — an approved oral therapy that also reduces the activity of the immune system, but through a different mechanism — for 108 weeks (about two years).
Top-line results showed that Ponvory significantly lowered the frequency of annual relapses by 30.5%, and reduced the number of brain lesions visible on an MRI scan by 56% compared with Aubagio. The treatment worked better to prevent worsening fatigue and loss of brain volume.
“MS is relentless, painful, and disabling, and this treatment increases the options for people to manage their condition and help prevent symptoms,” Simpkins said.
“Our community’s experiences tell us just how big a difference having different treatments available can make,” she said.