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NICE turns down Roche's Ocrevus in early primary progressive multiple sclerosis

Published on 29/06/18 at 10:46am

Roche’s sometimes strained relationship with NICE continues as the health watchdog for England and Wales chose to reject the former’s humanised anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) in the treatment of early primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS).

The organisation acknowledged that there are currently no disease-modifying treatments available to patients with this form of the condition, but noted that it could not reconcile the utility of Ocrevus with its price, labelling it as not cost-effective for use on the NHS compared to current routine care. Roche offered to provide the medication at a lower price to patients during ongoing clinical trials, but NICE chose to reject this offer as well.

The move comes only a week after the organisation's approved the same medicine in relapsing remitting forms of MS.

MS organisations were vocal in their condemnation of the decision. Jo Sopala, Director of Development at MS Trust, commented: “We are very disappointed by this initial decision, but not surprised; we knew this was going to be a tough fight and will continue to make the strongest possible case for NHS approval of ocrelizumab for primary progressive MS. People do everything they can to minimise the impact PPMS has on their lives, but they are all too aware that, at the moment, there is nothing that will slow down the progression of their disease. We are pleased that NICE recognises the innovative nature of ocrelizumab and urge NICE, NHS England and the manufacturer to find a solution which enables those eligible to access this drug as soon as possible.”

Genevieve Edwards, Director of External Affairs at the MS Society, also discussed the move: “This initial decision is deeply disappointing. We’ve been waiting a lifetime for an effective treatment for primary progressive MS, and it is simply unacceptable to deny people a treatment they urgently need. This form of MS can be painful and often exhausting, so people are understandably desperate for a proven medicine that can help.

 “Thankfully this isn’t the end of the road, and we know the manufacturers are talking to NICE and NHS England about their options. We urge both sides to come together and find a solution that allows everyone who could benefit, access to ocrelizumab as soon as possible.”

Ocrevus is currently undergoing review by the Scottish Medicines Consortium for the treatment of relapsing remitting MS, with a decision due by 9 July.

Matt Fellows

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