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U-turn as SMC approves Tysabri for MS

The Scottish Medicines Consortium follows NICE's footsteps and approves the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has followed in the UK's National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence's (NICE) footsteps and approved the multiple sclerosis (MS) drug Tysabri (natalizumab).

The drug, which is manufactured by US-based Biogen Idec and Ireland-headquartered Elan, has been approved for use in people with highly active relapsing-remitting MS (HARRMS).

The SMC had ruled in 2006 that Tysabri was too expensive for use on the NHS, but has now reversed its decision following a review.

All NHS Health Boards in Scotland are now obliged to consider the SMC's advice and ensure that Tysabri is made available to meet patient's clinical needs.

NICE approved Tysabri in August 2007, and it was the first drug to be approved for reimbursement.

"Access to appropriate therapy is particularly vital in Scotland, as we have the highest number of people with MS per capita in the world. Our priority now must be to ensure that treatment is made available to those with the most highly active form of the disease," said Dr Belinda Weller, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.

Tysabri costs around GBP 15,000 a year per patient.

10th September 2007

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