MS patients in Scotland must pay for treatment

Patients with relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) cannot be given natalizumab (Tysabri) on the NHS in Scotland despite good clinical outcomes because it is too expensive.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) said that the economic case for providing the drug on the NHS has not been demonstrated.

It calculated that the cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) for natalizumab is £32,000 com-pared with beta interferon and £31,000 compared with glatiramer acetate.

But the SMC acknowledged that clinical evidence showed that, compared with placebo, natalizumab significantly reduced relapse rate in patients with rapidly evolving severe RRMS. Sustained progression of disability over two years was also significantly less likely in patients given natalizumab.

Natalizumab is believed to reduce inflammation and demyelination in MS by inhibiting migration of leukocytes into the central nervous system. It is licensed as a single disease modifying therapy in highly active relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) if patients have rapidly developing disease or do not respond to beta interferon.

MS charities said the decision left doctors with no treatment al-ternatives for these patients.

Patients will only be able to receive natalizumab if they fund the drug themselves or if Scottish health boards take the unusual step of overruling the SMC advice.

Chief executive of the MS Trust Chris Jones said: ‘Clinicians will be prevented from prescribing an effective licensed treatment to people in need. We urge people with MS to continue fighting for Tysabri on an individual basis.’

Mark Hazelwood, director of the MS Society Scotland, said: ‘No other drug has shown this poten-tial to reduce disability and any short-term savings are likely to be outpaced by the devastating financial costs of living with severe, progressive disability.

‘Longer-term, we are concerned about the implications this might have on the forthcoming NICE decision this summer,’ he added.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

Young doctor

BMA poll could see 'demeaning' junior doctor title ditched

The BMA could drop the term 'junior doctor' in favour of 'resident doctor' to better...

Houses of parliament

Tory peer calls PA fears 'Luddism' and claims most GP visits 'incredibly straightforward'

Most GP appointments are 'incredibly straightforward' and fears over a wider role...

UK money

NHS pension contribution overhaul to go ahead from April

Changes to NHS pension contribution rates, which will see the top earners required...

BMA sign

BMA warns £800m lost from GP contract since 2019 as last-ditch talks continue

BMA negotiators remain in talks over an improved GP contract offer for 2024/25 just...

GP consultation

GPs still under pressure to prescribe black triangle drug inclisiran

GPs are continuing to face pressure to prescribe the black triangle drug inclisiran...

BMA chair Professor Phil Banfield

Lords urged to block legislation for GMC to regulate PAs

The BMA has urged peers to block legislation that would make the GMC responsible...