An intravenous drug that is taken once a year over two years looks set to gain official approval as a new treatment option for multiple sclerosis.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) announced it was planning to recommend the drug – alemtuzumab – for adults with relapsing-remitting MS.
At the moment available treatments for this type of MS consist of either daily tablets or injections several times a week.
Alemtuzumab is taken intravenously via two short courses of treatment a year apart. The first course is administered over five consecutive days and the second course over three days.
While the drug does have some possible side effects, it may appeal to patients wishing to have a baby as it comes with a shorter time period during which it is inadvisable to get pregnant.
Marketed under the brand name Lemtrada, the treatment is recommended in final draft guidance issued by NICE.
Final guidance is expected to be published in June, which means neurologists should be able to prescribe the drug from October 2014.
The move was welcomed by the MS Trust, which described it as an “important addition” to the range of treatment currently on offer.
Amy Bowen, the charity’s director of service development and a nurse, said: “We are particularly pleased that alemtuzumab should become an option for anyone with active relapsing-remitting MS.
“It allows people the opportunity to choose a disease modifying treatment that gives them the best balance between the risks and benefits in consultation with their neurologist and MS nurse,” she said.