More MS news articles for Jan 2002

UK still won't pay for multiple sclerosis drugs

Jan 25, 2002
LONDON,  (Reuters Health)

Britain's drug-cost watchdog confirmed on Friday it has again dismissed appeals by drugmakers and patients to allow the National Health Service to prescribe certain multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs.

Germany's Schering, Switzerland's Serono, America's Biogen, Israel's Teva, and its European marketing partner Aventis, and patient groups asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to review its decision last year.

The annual cost of the treatment ranges from £6,500 for glatiramer acetate to around £9,500 (US$9,213-$13,470) per patient for beta-interferon.

In a statement, NICE said that "appeals against the Institute's Final Appraisal Determination on the use of beta-interferon and glatiramer acetate for MS, heard on 26th November 2002, have not been upheld."

The Department of Health and the companies confirmed that they are still discussing a scheme to offer many patients drugs as part of a large study to assess their long-term cost effectiveness.

The talks are examining the possibility of a "risk-sharing" scheme in which drugs would be funded for patients with the relapsing-remitting form of MS. After a period of time an assessment would be made of whether the drugs were working for patients. If so, payments would continue. If not, payments to manufacturers would be reduced on a sliding scale.

Industry sources said details of the scheme are still being negotiated but that an announcement is likely early next month.

MS Society acting chief executive Ken Walker said, "It is now 2-1/2 tortuous years since the NICE appraisal began. Throughout that time, we have expressed serious concerns about the way in which it has been conducted.

"In particular, we have repeatedly argued that the measures of cost effectiveness NICE has used are inappropriate for a fluctuating life-long condition like MS."

Walker said that the society expected details of the scheme to provide drugs to patients very shortly. "While that is good news for many people with MS, it sadly comes too late for many others who have become too disabled to qualify for the drugs while the NICE appraisal has dragged on."

He added in a statement: "The Society recently voiced its concerns about deficiencies in the NICE process to the Health Select Committee. There is urgent need for change before treatments for other life-long conditions fall foul of NICE's deeply flawed measures of cost effectiveness."

Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited