More MS news articles for Oct 2001

Britain's NICE Set to Announce MS Drug Decision

LONDON (Reuters Health) Oct 30 - Britain's cost-effectiveness watchdog will announce on Friday whether drugs for multiple sclerosis (MS) should be reimbursed by the country's National Health Service.

A National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) spokeswoman told Reuters Health that the agency's appraisal committee finalized its appraisal of the drugs last Thursday and has sent advance copies of its findings to companies, patient groups and other stakeholders.

"The Institute has decided that, because of the interest in this appraisal, it will publish the final appraisal determination on its Web site at 10:30 am [London time] on Friday," she added.

Earlier this year, NICE provisionally decided "on the balance of their clinical and cost effectiveness" that beta interferon nor glatiramer acetate should not be reimbursed.

However it gave the three manufacturers of beta interferon Germany's Schering, Switzerland's Serono SA and America's Biogen as well as Israel's Teva pharmaceuticals, which markets glatiramer acetate, the chance to comment before making its final appraisal.

Spokesmen for the companies and the Multiple Sclerosis Society said on Tuesday they had not yet received the final appraisal document. In any case, they said they would not be able to comment because they were bound by confidentiality.

Patient groups and the companies have previously condemned the long time taken by NICE to assess the drugs. They have warned that the condition of patients who could be helped by therapy is deteriorating.

Separately, in a move recommended by NICE last August, the companies have been talking to Department of Health officials to see if a way can be found for any of the drugs to be secured for NHS patients "in a manner which could be considered to be cost effective."

The Multiple Sclerosis Society has also proposed that the drugs should be made widely available to NHS patients in the context of long-term trials to determine efficacy.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd