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Final NICE backing for Biogen Idec's Tecfidera

Oral multiple sclerosis is cleared for NHS use in England
Biogen Idec building

Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in England and Wales are set to have access to another oral treatment after Biogen Idec's Tecfidera was recommended by the region's health watchdog.

In final guidance the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) should be available as a treatment option for adults with the relapsing–remitting form of MS.

It makes Tecfidera is the third oral MS drug recommended for NHS use, following 2012 guidance for Novartis' Gilenya (fingolimod) and a recommendation at the beginning of this year for Sanofi's Aubagio (teriflunomide).

All these drugs mark a step forward for patients with MS who have previously had only regular injections as a treatment option.

The innovation comes at a price though, and all three drugs are also only available on the NHS via a patient access scheme, where the manufacturer covers part of the drug's cost.

Biogen Idec was compelled to provide Tecfidera with this discount after NICE initially turned down the drug at the beginning of this year, stating there were “questions to be answered” about the cost-effectiveness of the treatment.

Now that NICE has issued final guidance NHS trusts have a legal obligation to begin funding Tecfidera for eligible patients within the next three months.

Prof Carole Longson, NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre director, also suggested that Biogen Idec's drug may be a preferential treatment to existing options.

“Evidence has shown that this drug is more effective in reducing relapse rates and just as effective in delaying disability progression compared with current similar treatments,” she said.

“Another advantage of dimethyl fumarate is that it is an oral treatment. It will be more convenient for patients to take than other currently available treatments, which must all be injected. It will help more people with multiple sclerosis to live a normal life.”

A spokesperson for Biogen commented: "The NICE guidance is good news for people in England and Wales who are starting treatment for RRMS. This is important as approximately 100,000 people in the UK have MS.

"For more than 30 years, Biogen Idec has been committed to improving the lives of people living with MS. Biogen Idec is dedicated to serving all those affected by the disease through cutting-edge science and delivering innovative therapies, all enhanced by a deep understanding of patients' needs."

Article by
Thomas Meek

27th August 2014

From: Sales



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