MS community fight for new drug to treat primary-progressive MS

New disease-modifying drug Ocrelizumab could be the treatment that many people with primary-progressive MS have been waiting for, but despite positive clinical outcomes, it has yet to be licensed here in the UK.Multiple sclerosis (MS) causes inflammation of the nerve cells in the brain and spine, and disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) are a form of treatment that support the immune system to reduce this inflammation. DMTs have been a staple in helping people with relapsing-remitting MS to manage their condition by reducing both the frequency and severity of relapses. However, until recently, there has not been a similar treatment option for those living with the primary progressive form of the condition (PPMS).This could all be about to change, with DMT Ocrelizumab being the first to demonstrate a significant reduction in symptom development and disease progression in PPMS. It was recommended for licensing by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of both relapsing-remitting and primary-progressive forms of MS in January of this year.However, it was rejected by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in June when they licensed it for relapsing-remitting MS only. NICE have noted that whilst clinical trials demonstrated that Ocrelizumab can slow the progression of the condition, they do not feel it is a ‘cost-effective use of limited NHS resources’.The MS Society have stated ‘Ocrelizumab should be available on the NHS for everyone with primary progressive MS who could benefit’ and have launched a petition with over 16,000 signatures to date, demonstrating the level of support for this statement.The national charity are urging NICE, NHS England and drug producer Roche UK to come to a mutual agreement in order to authorise this drug for use amongst people with PPMS. NICE are expected to respond by 31st October.For more information or to add your name to the petition, visit and follow #SpeakupforMS for the latest information.Interested in what it might mean for clinical practice if Ocrelizumab is licensed for PPMS? MS MasterClass delegate Dr Karen Chung was awarded Runner up for her intermodule project looking into just this. For more information see a summary snapshot of her project findings.

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