- Fingolimod - a new treatment for multiple sclerosis.
- Natalizumab - a new treatment for multiple sclerosis
- Changes to the access criteria for other funded multiple sclerosis treatments (interferons/glatiramer), so they can be given earlier in the disease.
Two new medicines, fingolimod (Gilenya) and natalizumab (Tysabri) became funded for multiple sclerosis from 1 November 2014. The funding of natalizumab was part of PHARMAC’s largest ever multi-product agreement which it entered into with Novartis.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive neurological condition which leads to increasing levels of disability. Pharmaceutical treatments are funded for a particular type of MS, called relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
As well as funding two new medicines, PHARMAC also changed the way MS treatments are funded. From 1 November 2014 all treatments were funded from first diagnosis of definitive relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, for patients who meet the funding criteria. The Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) is a method of quantifying disability in MS and is used to measure and assess disability and disease progression in MS. Treatments are now available for people with MS who have an EDSS score of 0 - 4.0. PHARMAC has taken extensive clinical advice from neurologists with expertise in treating MS to ensure that treatments continue to be targeted to people with the greatest capacity to benefit.
Based on the evidence to date, these new treatments appear to be more effective than the interferons/glatiramer acetate treatments for multiple sclerosis, and are most likely to be more effective at preventing progression of disease if used at earlier stages of disease.
About 600 people were receiving funded MS treatments prior to the changes. PHARMAC estimates this could grow by about 400 over the next few years, with the change in criteria and improved choice of treatments.
This is the most significant change in the funding of MS treatments in 15 years.
Last updated: 10 December 2015