Eligible patients in Scotland will soon have access to Kesimpta® (ofatumumab), the first self-administered, targeted B-cell therapy for patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) with active disease defined by clinical or imaging features.
Patients with RRMS in Scotland have previously been unable to access a high efficacy, B-cell therapy through the NHS without regular visits to a clinic or hospital for treatment. For patients in the far north of the country where MS is most prevalent, that could have meant a long journey to the nearest specialist centre in Inverness6.
Ofatumumab, from Novartis, is designed to be self-injected once a month using the Sensoready® autoinjector pen, uses specially engineered antibodies that target a subset of the body’s B-cells, a type of immune cell that abnormally damages nerves in the brain and spinal cord in patients with MS7,8. In clinical trials, ofatumumab delivered on the primary endpoint significantly reducing relapses by more than 50% when compared to teriflunomide (a commonly prescribed oral disease modifying therapy for RRMS)4.
Research published by the MS Society in June 2020 found that during the first wave of the pandemic, one in four MS patients surveyed in the UK said they had appointments delayed or cancelled, and a further 6% said they cancelled their appointments for fear of infection9.
The SMC concluded that ‘Ofatumumab has the potential to reduce relapse rates, slow disease progression and improve quality of life.’ It went on to say, ‘while some people with MS may need help from a carer or family member for administration, self-injection once a month is likely to be straightforward and will minimise the treatment burden for many people. Taking medication at home also minimises any delay in starting treatment and reduces the need for regular hospital visits1.’
Dr Javier Carod Artal, consultant neurologist at Raigmore hospital, NHS Highlands, Inverness said: “It is welcome news that we will soon have access to a convenient, new medicine for the treatment of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in Scotland. As the first targeted B-cell therapy that can be taken at home, ofatumumab provides a much-needed high-efficacy treatment option that clinicians can prescribe from diagnosis onwards, even to patients who can’t travel for regular hospital visits for treatment.”
Iain Morrison, Chief Executive, Revive MS Support said: “People living with MS need to have access to a range of different treatment options so they can work with their healthcare team to find the one that’s best for them. But, the ability to administer yourself once a month will be a game changer. Many people living with MS in Scotland live in very rural areas a long way from specialist MS care, and despite widespread vaccination some still tell us they are worried about catching COVID-19 if they travel to visit them.”
Chinmay Bhatt, Managing Director UK, Ireland & Nordics for Novartis Pharmaceuticals said: “Innovating to solve complex challenges is at the heart of Novartis. In Scotland, where many people with MS live a long way from specialist care, ofatumumab provides an opportunity for them to access a highly effective treatment that can be self-administered at home. This is especially important whilst COVID-19 is still front of mind for many patients as well as for the NHS. We are proud to help improve access to medicines for patients no matter where they live in the UK, and continue to build on our heritage to reimagine medicines for all.”
 Scottish Medicines Consortium. Ofatumumab (Kesimpta®). Available at: https://www.scottishmedicines.org.uk/medicines-advice/ofatumumab-kesimpta-full-smc2357/ [Accessed July 2021]
2 MS Trust. Prevalence and incidence of multiple sclerosis. Available from: https://mstrust.org.uk/a-z/prevalence-and-incidence-multiple-sclerosis [Accessed July 2021]
3 Scottish MS Register, Public Health Scotland. Scottish Multiple Sclerosis Register National Report 2020. Available here: https://readymag.com/PHIDigital/SMSR-Report-2020/ [Accessed July 2021]
4 Hauser S, Bar-Or A, Cohen J, et al. Ofatumumab versus teriflunomide in relapsing multiple sclerosis. N Engl J Med. 2020;383(6):546–557.
5 MS Society and MS Trust. Findings of a survey of MS healthcare professionals on the impact of Covid-19 on MS services in the UK. [Accessed: July 2021]
6 MS Trust. MS Services near me. Available at: https://mstrust.org.uk/about-ms/ms-services-near-me?distance%5Bpostal_code%5D=inverness&distance%5Bsearch_distance%5D=100&distance%5Bsearch_units%5D=mile&field_service_type_tid=513. [Accessed: July 2021]
7 MS Trust. Ofatumumab. Available from: https://mstrust.org.uk/a-z/ofatumumab. [Accessed July 2021]
8 MS Society. Targeting B cells to Treat Progressive MS, 28 May 2021. Available from: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/research/latest-research/latest-research-news-and-blogs/targeting-b-cells-to-treat-progressive-ms [Accessed July 2021]
9 MS Society. Life in Lockdown with MS, 17 June 2020. Available from: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-08/Life-in-Lockdown_Scotland.pdf [Accessed July 2021]