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NICE backs new oral tablet treatment for multiple sclerosis

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A new drug for treating multiple sclerosis should be available on the NHS, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Final guidance from NICE has recommended the use of Biogen Idec’s MS drug dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera).

Dimethyl fumarate is recommended as a treatment option for adults with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

“It will help more people with multiple sclerosis to live a normal life”

Carole Longson

The NHS now has a legal obligation to begin funding this treatment for eligible patients within the next three months.

The independent Appraisal Committee, which developed the guidance on behalf of NICE, considered evidence from the manufacturer, clinical experts and patient representatives.

Professor Carole Longson, NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director, said: “We are very pleased to be able to recommend dimethyl fumarate as an option for adults with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

“Evidence has shown that this drug is more effective in reducing relapse rates and just as effective in delaying disability progression compared with current similar treatments,” she said.

Professor Carole Longson

Professor Carole Longson

“Another advantage of dimethyl fumarate is that it is an oral treatment,” she said. “It will be more convenient for patients to take than other currently available treatments, which must all be injected.

“It will help more people with multiple sclerosis to live a normal life,” she added.

Dimethyl fumarate is recommended as an option for treating adults with active relapsing-remitting MS – normally defined as two clinically significant relapses in the previous two years – where patients do not have highly active, or rapidly evolving, severe relapsing-remitting MS and the manufacturer provides dimethyl fumarate with the discount agreed in the patient access scheme.

Dimethyl fumarate is taken orally. The recommended dosage is 120 mg twice daily in the first week of treatment and 240 mg twice daily thereafter.

Treatment continues as long as patients benefit clinically, or until they experience unacceptable adverse reactions.

The prices of a pack of 120-mg tablets (14 tablets per pack) and 240-mg tablets (56 tablets per pack) are £343 and £1373 respectively.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • I wonder who the eligible patients would be, would it include those who have had MS for at least 40yrs and have gradually become severely disabled (as with my cousin who is now 60+) or would they be written off as not worth treating.

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