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MS Society hails new drug approval

The MS Society has welcomed moves to approve a new drug to treat people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended that Tysabri (natalizumab) be given to people with the highly active form of the disease.

NICE had been poised to reject Tysabri - which stops immune cells leaving the blood stream and entering areas of inflammation - on cost grounds.

But following a consultation period, NICE has now said it can be used on patients who have had two or more disabling relapses in the last year.

Unless an appeal against the decision is made in the next two weeks, final guidance will be issued shortly after.

Health trusts will then have three months to make Tysabri available. This will bring England, Wales and Northern Ireland in line with other EU countries and the US where the drug is already being used by more than 12,000 MS sufferers.

The drug costs around £14,000 a year, but procedures such as scans to ensure patients are not suffering side-effects can push this up to £20,000.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the MS Society, said: "MS symptoms can range from loss of sight and mobility, through nerve pain, fatigue, depression and more.

"In highly active relapsing MS, people experience repeated 'attacks' of these symptoms, which can have a devastating impact on their lives and those of their families.

"For the small number of people with this highly active form of MS - we understand around 3,000 people UK-wide could stand to benefit - Tysabri represents a vital treatment option."

NICE

MS Society

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