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NICE approves oral drug for multiple sclerosis

An oral drug has been approved for the first time for the treatment of a type of multiple sclerosis by the NHS in England.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has backed teriflunomide (Aubagio) for relapsing-remitting MS.

It is recommended for treating adults with active relapsing-remitting MS –normally defined as two significant relapses in the past two years – but only where it is not highly active or rapidly evolving.

Teriflunomide, which is manufactured by Genzyme, is taken orally as a 14mg tablet once daily.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre, said: “Current treatments all need to be injected, and can be associated with unpleasant side effects.

“As an oral treatment with a different side-effect profile, teriflunomide offers a new option for treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, which could have a substantial impact on quality of life,” she said.

Nick Rijke, director for policy and research at the MS Society, said: “We’ve been waiting a long time for a tablet to be available for early stage MS, so this is excellent news.”

Teriflunomide is an immunomodulatory disease-modifying therapy, which works by blocking proliferation of stimulated lymphocytes. It is thought to reduce the number of activated lymphocytes, which would cause inflammation and damage myelin in the central nervous system.

As a result of the recommendation, the NHS has a legal obligation to begin funding the treatment for eligible patients within the next three months.

The list price of teriflunomide is £1,037.84 per 28-tablet pack (excluding VAT). The manufacturer has estimated the annual cost of teriflunomide to be £13,529 per patient per year.


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