People with multiple sclerosis (MS) could be offered a new treatment within a few months, it has been announced.
The first pill for MS has been approved by European experts, paving the way for an EU-wide licence.
Gilenya, which is already sold in the US and Russia, provides the first daily pill alternative to injected MS treatments.
The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), made up of experts from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), has recommended that the EU regulator approve the drug.
The Swiss-based manufacturer of the drug, Novartis, said a licence allowing Gilenya to be marketed in the UK was expected “in the next few months”.
The announcement has been welcomed by the MS Society.
The group’s policy and research director Dr Jayne Spink said: “The news about Gilenya is great for people with MS. The availability of a tablet to treat the condition will give people more choice and for many will come as a welcome relief from frequent injections.
“All being well, Gilenya could be available for people with MS later this year.”
The CHMP said Gilenya was appropriate for patients with two serious forms of relapsing-remitting MS.
Currently many patients with the disease have to self-inject with drugs such as beta interferon or travel to hospital for treatment.