Merck has announced good news for some multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, as its Mavenclad (cladribine) has been given a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance update.
The organisation’s Technology Appraisal Guidance (TAG), which is effective immediately, will soon state that the MS drug can be used as an option for treating highly active versions of the disease in adults without the requirement of a gadolinium-enhanced MRI scan.
The decision is a result of a partnership with the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), which brings industry, government and the NHS together to remove barriers to uptake of innovations, so that NHS patients have faster access to innovations that can “transform care.”
The drug has been selected by the collaborative as “a rapid uptake product due to the clear benefits it offers for both MS patients and the UK healthcare system” explained Dr Waqar Rashid, consultant neurologist at St George’s University Hospitals Trust.
He went on to say that the gadolinium-enhanced MRI requirement in the previous NICE guidance was a “significant barrier” for many clinicians and their patients.
The tablets were initially identified as one of the AAC’s 12 “rapid uptake products” in 2018, but the AAC and NHS England promptly raised concerns to NICE that the requirement in the guidance for gadolinium-enhancing MRI prior to treatment was restricting access to the treatment.
David Martin, chief executive officer of the Multiple Sclerosis Trust added that the charity is very pleased that NICE have amended criteria for access to Mavenclad,” as now people with MS face “one less barrier to accessing an effective MS treatment.”
Mavenclad is a medication that can help reduce relapses for up to four years with a maximum of 20 days’ oral treatment, taken in the first and second year.