Patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) will have routine access to a drug that can slow disability under a deal struck between NHS England and the manufacturer Roche, paving the way for its approval by NICE.

Ocrelizumab (also known as Ocrevus) is the first treatment that can modify or change the course of the disease to be available for patients who have primary progressive multiple sclerosis, where symptoms steadily increase over a period of months or years without periods of remission.

Clinical trial results show that ocrelizumab can slow the worsening of disability in people with the condition, helping patients stay able and active for longer.

Giving patients access to world class, cutting edge drugs and therapies is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England said: “Today the NHS is making a significant advance in the care of people living with multiple sclerosis.

This latest innovative deal is further proof that companies willing to work flexibly with the NHS can secure a constructive partnership that benefits both patients and taxpayers.”

The innovative deal between NHS England and Roche unlocks the final stage of NICE’s appraisal and opens the way for access to this important treatment.

It is estimated that 10,000-15,000 people have Primary progressive MS (PPMS) in the UK, of whom around 2,700 people could be eligible for treatment with ocrelizumab.

Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition which affects the brain and spinal cord. It affects everyone differently and there are a wide range of possible
symptoms.

Primary progressive MS can have a substantial impact on the lives of people with the condition and their families. Ocrelizumab will now be routinely available for eligible adults which, given the lack of other treatments for this form of MS, is great news for patients.

Ocrelizumab is given as an infusion during an outpatient appointment
once every six months and costs around £19,000 per patient per year at
full price.

NHS England has secured a commercial in confidence deal with Roche after tough negotiations on both sides. With the deal, the cost-effectiveness estimates for ocrelizumab are in the range that NICE considers an acceptable use of NHS resources.

Previous arrangements would be down to industry proposing a price where NICE say yes or no to the drug being made available. NHS England now has more direct involvement with industry, working closely with NICE, to help to find deals that work for patients and taxpayers.