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NICE approves Avonex® as treatment option for people with MS

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended global biotechnology  company Biogen’s Avonex® (interferon beta-1a) as an option for treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

The reappraisal of the treatment comes after the landmark Risk Sharing Scheme ended, at which point NICE began an appraisal of treatments including interferon beta-1a, Extavia (interferon beta-1b), glatiramer acetate and Betaferon (interferon beta-1b).

In December 2017, NICE provided proposed guidance – an appraisal consultation document – to recommend only one treatment option, Extavia (interferon beta-1b), for use on the NHS.

NICE has reversed that decision and recommended Avonex (interferon beta-1a) and glatiramer acetate alongside Extavia (interferon beta-1b). The recommendation states that the treatments must be provided with the discounts agreed in the patient access schemes.

Terry O’Regan, managing director and vice president of Biogen UK and Irelandsaid: “We are pleased that the need for patient choice has been recognised in the final appraisal determination by NICE after we presented a thorough case demonstrating that Avonex is indeed an appropriate use of NHS resources.

“Multiple sclerosis is a heterogeneous condition and many factors need to be considered when evaluating appropriate treatment options for patients, including administration methods, adverse event profiles and availability of patient support programmes,” he added.

NICE has also agreed to assess peginterferon beta-1a under its the Single Technology Appraisal (STA) programme to allow the appropriate appraisal of the medicine, and a submission from Biogen is due at a later date.

Commenting on the decision, Mr O’Regan said: “The acknowledgement from NICE that peginterferon beta-1a was an inappropriate inclusion in this appraisal is welcome news. The data assessed by NICE was from the Risk Sharing Scheme, which did not include peginterferon beta-1a. The cost-effectiveness of this treatment therefore cannot be decided via this appraisal.

“In fact, when the original assessment group report considered the peginterferon beta-1a trial data, they deemed it the most clinically and cost effective option. We now look forward to providing evidence to NICE as part of the STA process.”