Vumerity Added to NHS of England for People With Active RRMS
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has added oral Vumerity (diroximel fumarate), approved to treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in the U.K., to the list of medications available through the public health program for England.
Because the therapy has been recommended through a fast track appraisal process, Vumerity is expected to be available to eligible patients, those with active disease, at lower or no cost through the country’s National Health Service (NHS) by mid-May.
“We’re pleased NICE has approved this new disease modifying treatment (DMT) Vumerity for use on the NHS in England. Living with MS can be relentless, painful and disabling, but access to this, along with a range of other treatments already available, offers much-needed hope,” Meg Stapleton, policy manager at the U.K.’s MS Society, said in a press release.
NICE’s decision covers RRMS patients who have active disease, defined by inflammation or new or enlarging lesions in the central nervous system, as evidenced by MRI scans. NICE does not recommend Vumerity for patients who have highly active or rapidly evolving severe MS, owing to a lack of evidence in this population.
This decision comes just a few months after the Scottish Medicines Consortium approved listing Vumerity on its public health plan for RRMS patients in that country. The NICE decision will be reviewed by regulatory authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland, which usually adopt the same policies, the MS Society noted.
Vumerity was approved for use in England, Scotland, and Wales by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in November 2021.
The treatment contains an inactive molecule called diroximel fumarate. Once inside the body, this molecule is converted into an active form called monomethyl fumarate (MMF). Though its exact biological mechanism remains incompletely understood, MMF is broadly thought to reduce the inflammatory activity of immune cells that drive MS.
MMF also is the active agent in Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate), an approved, older oral treatment for MS. Vumerity was designed to deliver a similar amount of MMF to the body as Tecfidera, but with fewer gastrointestinal side effects. Both Vumerity and Tecfidera are sold by Biogen.
Clinical trial data have shown that MS patients treated with Vumerity experience fewer and less severe gastrointestinal side effects than those given Tecfidera, with such benefits linked to a better quality of life.
“People with MS often tell us that it can be difficult to attend hospital appointments to receive their treatment, but Vumerity can conveniently be taken as a tablet at home. It’s also been shown to have fewer gastrointestinal side effects than Tecfidera, the most similar DMT,” Stapleton said. “Everyone with MS should be able to access Vumerity if it’s the right option for them.”