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NHS England enters into commercial agreement that allows MS patients immediate access to therapy

NHS England has entered into a commercial agreement that allows NHS patients in England immediate access to the innovative new multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment, cladribine tablets (Mavenclad). 

NHS England and Merck, the manufacturer of cladribine tablets, have partnered on the commercial access agreement, representing an example of a “win-win-win” for the NHS, patients and industry at a time of intense financial pressure on the NHS.

Alleviating pressure on NHS services is critical, as the MS population has outgrown the services available and MS as a condition is costing the UK economy between £3.3bn-£4.2bn each year, according to the MS Society.

Elisabeth Prchla, Merck UK general manager, said: “We are delighted with the NHS England decision on this commercial agreement, which will see patients in England access the treatment immediately. This is a first of its kind in multiple sclerosis, which can also be a benchmark for the future, bringing together the NHS, government and industry to achieve faster access for patients, in line with the UK’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy.”

She continued, “This milestone underscores our commitment to unmet needs in the MS community – we have been working closely with NHS England to find a soltion that not only provides access to our medicine as early as possible but will also save the NHS money at a time of immense financial pressures.”

This commercial agreement follows the recent positive recommendation from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

NICE has issued a Final Appraisal Determination (FAD) that recommends cladribine tablets as an option for treating highly active MS in adults. Use of cladribine tablets is recommended only if a person has rapidly evolving severe relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis, that is, at least two relapses in the previous year and at least one T1 gadolinium-enhancing lesion at baseline MRI or relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis that has responded inadequately to treatment with disease-modifying therapy, defined as one relapse in the previous year and MRI evidence of disease activity.

This is the first MS disease-modifying therapy that has gone straight to a positive final recommendation in the NICE appraisal process, involving just one committee meeting. In the FAD, NICE concluded that cladribine tablets are less costly than other treatments and require less frequent dosing and monitoring requirements. The recommendation in the FAD forms the basis of NICE’s final guidance (Technology Appraisal Guidance, TAG), anticipated in early 2018, and once this is published the NHS must provide funding within 90 days.3

“Merck is committed to improving the lives of patients with MS through the delivery of innovative medicines and patient support programmes. We are delighted that cladribine tablets are now available for certain patients with highly active relapsing-remitting MS and proud to have worked together with NICE and NHS England to deliver this treatment as early as possible,” said Marco Lyons, Head of Medical Neurology and Immunology at Merck.

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