After Genzyme’s multiple sclerosis drug Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) suffered a setback in January and was resubmitted for review by the FDA on April 8th, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is now planning to recommend Lemtrada for treatment of adults with relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis. Lemtrada was previously approved only in the European Union, Canada, and Australia, but neurologists should be able to prescribe the drug in America beginning in October 2014.
Lemtrada is delivered intravenously via two short courses of treatment spaced one year apart. The first course is delivered over five consecutive days, and the second is delivered over three. This short time frame of treatment is particularly appealing to the fraction of the relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis population trying to become pregnant because it is inadvisable to become pregnant during the course of treatment.
The MS Trust is excited about the recommendation and called it an “important addition” to the range of treatments currently offered to multiple sclerosis patients. Amy Bowen, director of service development at MS Trust, commented, “We are particularly pleased that alemtuzumab should become an option for anyone with active relapsing-remitting MS. It allows people the opportunity to choose a disease modifying treatment that gives them the best balance between the risks and benefits in consultation with their neurologist and MS nurse.”
Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive disease, with the vast majority of viable treatment options geared for its early, relapsing-remitting stage. Given the fact that there are still no proven therapies for those with the more advanced secondary progressive multiples sclerosis, MS patient advocates continue to lobby for proven effective treatments such as Lemtrada to be made available to the patient population in an effort to extend the relapsing-remitting form of the disease and help patients avoid progression for as long as possible.