The new MS pill Tecfidera (also known as dimethyl fumarate) has received the final stamp of approval from NICE, and should now be freely available on the NHS in England and Wales to people with active relapsing remitting MS.
After an initial negative review which we appealed, NICE reached its final decision after reviewing the evidence on the benefits of the medicine.
The pill is taken twice a day and is proven to cut relapse rates and may also delay disability progression. It is considered to be more effective in reducing relapse rates and as effective for disability progression as existing beta-interferon treatments.
Step forward in MS treatment
Nick Rijke, Director for Policy and Research at the MS Society, said:
"We’re delighted that NICE has finally approved Tecfidera after their initial negative review of the drug earlier this year. It’s the third new drug to be approved for people with relapsing remitting MS over a number of months so today marks a significant step forward in the treatment of the condition.
“The drug is proven to be safe and effective in treating MS and for many people it will be much easier to live with because it’s taken in a pill form.”
Freely available on NHS
The NHS in England and Wales now has 3 months to put the necessary measures in place to be able to provide the treatment, meaning that come October, local hospitals have a legal obligation to provide the treatment to patients deemed eligible.
NICE have not recommended the treatment for those with highly active or rapidly evolving relapsing remitting MS (for whom other treatments are available such as Lemtrada, Tysabri and Gilenya).
Tecfidera availability in Northern Ireland and Scotland
The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland will now review this guidance and make arrangements to make this treatment routinely available to eligible patients in NI. This process should be complete by early Autumn 2014.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium approved Tecfidera earlier this year. Local Health Boards will make the treatment available across Scotland.
The news comes after the launch of our Treat Me Right campaign, which calls for people with MS to get access to the right treatments at the right time, wherever they live and whatever their means.