Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Approval of new multiple sclerosis pill ‘great news for patients’

A pill for multiple sclerosis (MS) described as “great news” for patients was approved for use in the UK today.

Fingolimod is the first oral treatment developed for the autoimmune disease.

Today it was given the green light by drug regulators and licensed as a ‘second line’ treatment for patients who have failed on other medication.

It fills a gap between initial treatment and once-monthly infusions of a powerful antibody drug natalizumab, that can have serious side-effects.

Draft guidance on fingolimod will be issued next month by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which assesses the cost effectiveness of new treatments.

Its recommendations will largely decide the extent to which the drug is made freely available to NHS patients in England. Health officials in Northern Ireland generally follow Nice’s recommendations.

MS affects around 100,000 people in Britain, and relapses requiring hospitalisation cost the NHS more than £3,000 per episode.

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