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Roche and NHS England hail pricing deal on MS drug Ocrevus

Another pricing deal on high cost medicine

Ocrevus

NHS England is claiming another successful negotiation with pharma after it agreed a lower price with Roche for its multiple sclerosis treatment Ocrevus.

The agreement means NICE can now reverse the rejection it announced in November, and Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), will be fully available to patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) in England, the first ever treatment licensed for this highly disabling form of the disease.

Roche says its trial data shows the drug is the first to ever slow progression in PPMS, and that it can delay the need for a wheelchair by up to seven years, though NICE says there remains doubt about the extent and duration of the benefits.

It was these doubts and the drug’s high list price - £19,160 per patient per year, based on twice yearly 600 mg infusions – which led to NICE’s original rejection.

The new deal will have seen this price significantly reduced, but the details of the deal remain confidential.

“Today’s announcement shows that when we work together, we really can make a difference,” commented Richard Erwin, general manager of Roche UK, and praised the patient groups and NHS England for helping to reach the agreement.

The company estimates around 2,700 people could be eligible for the treatment, which is given as an infusion during an outpatient appointment once every six months.

The approval is good news for Roche, as Ocrevus is one of its most important new products, much needed as its trio of older cancer blockbusters – Avastin, MabThera and Herceptin – go off patent across Europe.

NICE last year recommended Ocrevus for some adults with the relapsing-remitting form of MS, where competition with other new treatments is much fiercer.

A major new competitor in this segment is Novartis’ new oral treatment Mayzent, (siponimod) which has just gained US approval for relapsing/remitting disease and also the first approval for over a decade in active secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), the third subtype of the disease.

However Ocrevus has been a huge success in global markets since it was launched in 2017, with Roche saying the drug is on course to be its most successful launch ever. England's contribution to its revenues will now increase, though Roche says the other UK nations haven't yet approved its PPMS use.

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NHS England's Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England has hailed the ‘innovative deal’ which came after ‘tough negotiations on both sides’.

He commented: “Today the NHS is making a significant advance in the care of people living with multiple sclerosis. This latest innovative deal is further proof that companies willing to work flexibly with the NHS can secure a constructive partnership that benefits both patients and taxpayers."

Even with NHS England’s downward pressure on prices, it seems most pharma companies are valuing the clarity and speed of the new process. However, that’s not always the case – NHS England still hasn’t reached an agreement with Vertex on its cystic fibrosis treatment Orkambi, after more than three years of market access negotiations.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

9th May 2019

From: Marketing

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