Photo shows infusion bag and injector suspended from metal pole.

SMC accept ocrelizumab for relapsing remitting MS in Scotland

The new disease modifying therapy (DMT) ocrelizumab (brand name Ocrevus) has been given the green light by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for use on the NHS to treat relapsing remitting MS.

It can be taken if your MS is active and you’re unable to take the DMT alemtuzumab (brand name Lemtrada).

It should be available on the NHS in the coming months.

This reverses an earlier decision

Earlier in 2018 the SMC declined to make ocrelizumab available on NHS Scotland for people with relapsing remitting MS, due to its cost. The company which manufactures the drug, Roche Products Ltd, has now applied a discount.

What about ocrelizumab for progressive MS?

Ocrelizumab is also licensed to treat early primary progressive MS, but it has yet to be approved for that use on the NHS.

Earlier this year the drug’s makers withdrew their submission to the SMC for ocrelizumab for primary progressive MS. We’ll be working with the SMC and others to see a submission in the future.

What’s happening with ocrelizumab across the UK?

Earlier this year in June 2018 NICE approved it for treating relapsing remitting MS in England and Wales. This decision was endorsed in Northern Ireland in August.

In September 2018, NICE rejected the use of ocrelizumab for primary progressive MS. We're campaigning to change that.

In Scotland the decision is made by the SMC. They can’t make a decision until the drug’s makers submit an application to them. Making sure that happens is the focus of our work around ocrelizumab in Scotland.

Who can take ocrelizumab?

You must have ‘active’ relapsing MS. This means you’ve been having relapses or MRI scans of your brain or spinal cord show you have new lesions.

It will only be available to people who are unable or unwilling to take alemtuzumab.

Trials show ocrelizumab reduces relapses and the build-up of disability and carries less serious side effects than other highly effective treatments.

How do you take ocrelizumab?

It's taken as two intravenous infusions, given 14 days apart. It's then taken as a single infusion every six months.

Access to the right treatment at the right time

Our Scotland Director Morna Simpkins said: “We’re pleased that ocrelizumab has been approved by the SMC for limited use on NHS Scotland for relapsing remitting MS.

“We want every one of the 11,000 people in Scotland living with MS to have access to the right treatment at the right time and this decision takes us closer to that goal.

“MS is unpredictable and different for everyone and we have seen clearly the impact that access to treatments like ocrelizumab can have – not only in managing MS but in improving overall quality of life.”