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Pioneering pill to treat MS

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At least 3,000 people in the UK with multiple sclerosis (MS) could benefit from the world’s first pill for the condition, it was announced today.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued new draft guidance recommending fingolimod (brand name Gilenya) on the NHS for some patients with a form of MS.

The pill can help reduce the number of relapses in adults with highly active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), which is characterised by periods when symptoms worsen and then improve.

The guidance, which is in its final draft form but has not yet been issued to the NHS, relates to people who have experienced an unchanged or increased relapse rate, or ongoing severe relapses, compared to the previous year.

This is despite them taking other drugs such as beta interferons.

The MS Society estimates around 3,000 patients in the UK could benefit, although it says the figure could be higher.

NICE’s new guidance reverses a previous version issued in December and follows extra information provided by doctors and the drug manufacturer, Novartis, agreeing to a discount scheme.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the health technology evaluation centre at NICE, said: “The latest draft guidance from our committee recommends the NHS use of fingolimod for a specific group of adults who have highly active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.



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