Gilenya becomes first MS pill

 Gilenya (fingolimod) has become the first pill-based treatment for highly active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) recommended on the NHS after being backed in final guidance by NICE.

NICE had originally failed to recommend the pill in draft guidance but reconsidered its decision after Novartis and clinicians provided additional information and analysis on the effectiveness of the medication.

Professor Carole Longson, Director of the Health Technology Evaluation Centre at NICE, says the convenient treatment “is a valuable new therapy” for patients with RRMS.

RRMS is estimated to affect around 27,500 people in England and Wales and is the most common type of multiple sclerosis. Treatments to manage relapses are usually administered by injection.

NICE now specifically recommends the “innovative” treatment for adults who have an unchanged or increased relapse rate or ongoing severe relapses compared to the previous year, despite treatment.

But NICE states the recommendation only applies if Novartis provides Gilenya under the proposed terms in its confidential Patient Access Scheme it agreed with the DH.

“We are pleased to recommend fingolimod as a treatment option for the specific patient population for whom it has been demonstrated to be cost effective, providing Novartis applies its proposed discount,” said Professor Longson. “Multiple sclerosis can be a disabling condition and so we hope that this novel treatment will help to reduce relapses for these people.”

The treatment recently had its label updated to include new prescribing guidelines after the EMA and FDA raised concerns over cardiovascular events in certain patients.