NHS Chief, Simon Stevens has announce that NHS England has struck a deal to make an innovative treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) routinely available on the NHS.
From the 10 November hundreds of patients with MS are set to benefit from a new treatment option, Cladribine, following a deal with drug company Merck.
Speaking at the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference in London, Simon said: “These innovative deals are concrete examples of how NHS England is now successfully working with the life sciences industry to make treatments available for patients, while securing fair value for taxpayers.
'Today’s announcement shows that for companies who are willing to work with us, there are real gains for them, for the NHS and most importantly for patients able to get new and innovative drugs.'
This announcement means that from this month, those who have been diagnosed with highly active relapsing remitting MS will now benefit from the drug. Cladribine, also known as Mavenclad, is the first tablet to reduce relapses for up to four years. Compared to other therapies for MS, Cladribine involves taking a tablet for just 20 days in the first two years, followed by no additional treatment in years three and four.
NHS patients in England are the second country in the world to have access to the life enhancing treatment option.
NHS England has claimed on its website that this is one in a series of outcome based payment arrangements agreed by NHS England, enabling patients to have access to new and innovative medicines whilst ensuring it is in the best financial interests of the NHS. In April 2017 NHS England took on new powers to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies offering innovative high value medicines to the NHS.
NHS England has been working closely with a number of drug companies including Merck in a bid to ensure new, effective, but expensive medicines do reach patients.
In the past, previous agreements to make drugs available would have been given a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision from NICE. But NHS England now has more direct involvement in this process and is working closely with NICE to help secure deals that work for patients and taxpayers.
Patients and clinicians can access the treatment with immediate effect, and will not have to wait the usual 3 months after NICE publishes its final guidance next year, to access the drug.