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Treatment approved for relapsing remitting MS in Scotland

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A new pegylated treatment has been approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium for adults with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Peginterferon beta-1a (Plegridy) is a pegylated treatment for MS, which allows patients to receive interferon treatment with fewer injections.

Less frequent dosing is one of the factors associated with improved adherence to disease-modifying therapies in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, according to the treatment’s manufacturer Biogen Idec.

It is dosed fortnightly and is administered subcutaneously with an auto-injector, rather than the more frequent injections required with the other interferon beta drugs.

“It gives patients a wider choice of treatment with the option to inject less frequently”

Amy Bowen

Pegylation also allows peginterferon beta-1a to be stored outside a refrigerator at room temperature for up to 30 days – though it must be kept away from light – offering flexibility to patients in how they store it, the company said.

The MS Trust said peginterferon beta-1a had demonstrated an efficacy and safety profile consistent with the established interferon class in trials.

Amy Bowen, nurse and director of service development at the MS Trust, said: “The approval of Plegridy in Scotland is good news for people with MS who experience relapses.

“It gives them a wider choice of treatment with the option to inject less frequently,” she said.

Peginterferon beta-1a is a disease modifying drug formed by adding polyethylene glycol to interferon beta 1a to allow the drug to remain longer in the body.

It was approved for use in the European Union in July 2014 and given the green light earlier this week by the SMC for use by the NHs in Scotland.

The SMC approval of peginterferon beta-1a is based on results from the ADVANCE trial, which involved more than 1,500 patients.

In the trial, peginterferon beta-1a, dosed once every two weeks, significantly reduced annualised relapse rate at one year by 36% compared to placebo.

It reduced the risk of sustained disability progression at 12 weeks by 38% and at 24 weeks by 54%. In addition, the number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions was significantly reduced by 86% compared to placebo.

The most commonly reported adverse drug reactions with peginterferon beta-1a treatment were injection site reaction, flu-like illness, fever, headache, muscle pain, chills, injection site pain, weakness, injection site itching, and joint pain.

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