The new treatment for people with relapsing MS should be available from April 2022.
Today the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved ponesimod as a new treatment option for relapsing MS. This will be available for adults with active disease. And reverses their initial decision to reject the drug.
Ponesimod was initially turned down by NICE in England and Wales in October. And we asked you to tell us your experiences of the drug or how the drug could make a difference to you. Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts.
What is ponesimod?
Ponesimod (brand name Ponvory) is a tablet taken daily. Like fingolimod (brand name Gilenya), it's thought to act by trapping certain immune cells (called lymphocytes) in the body’s lymph nodes.
Phase 3 clinical trials have shown ponesimod to be more effective at reducing the relapse rate in relapsing MS and fatigue-related symptoms compared to teriflunomide (brand name Aubagio). In August 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) granted a UK licence to ponesimod to treat people with active relapsing forms of MS. ‘Active’ means you’re having relapses or MRI scans of your brain or spinal cord show new or growing lesions.
Where does this decision apply?
The NICE decision applies to England and Wales. The NHS has three months to make treatment available following a decision. This means the drug should be available to people living in England and Wales by April 2022.
NICE decisions are reviewed by the government in Northern Ireland but are usually adopted.
In November, the Scottish Medicine Consortium (SMC) approved ponesimod for use on the NHS in Scotland.
A step in the right direction
Fredi Cavander-Attwood, Policy Manager at the MS Society, says: “Having initially been rejected by NICE, we’re pleased the disease modifying treatment (DMT) ponesimod has been approved. It will provide people with relapsing MS another treatment option they can take as a tablet. MS is relentless, painful and disabling. And it’s vital people living with MS have access to a range of safe and effective treatments that work around their lifestyle.
“Some people with MS tell us they prefer tablets. They find them easier to take independently compared to injections or having to travel to hospital for infusions. It’s important people who are eligible are able to access it in England and Wales by April 2022.”