News Feature | May 29, 2014

Genzyme's MS Treatment Approved For UK Reimbursement

By Marcus Johnson

Genzyme’s newest multiple sclerosis drug, Lemtrada, has been made available for reimbursement through the UK’s National Health Service. The company made the announcement earlier this week, as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) releases its final guidance recommendation for the MS drug.

In September of 2013, the drug was approved for use by the European Commission. The drug is estimated to cost about $94,500 per year, but the drug only has to be administered once per year. About 100,000 people in the UK are suffering from MS. Since the drug has been approved by British regulators, it is expected to be made available in hospitals within the next three months. Patients who are evaluated and are deemed eligible for treatment will have a legal right to the drug.

Nick Rijke, the director for Policy and Research at the MS Society, discussed the implications of the drug’s approval. “The NICE approval of Lemtrada is a major step forward in the treatment of people with multiple sclerosis,” said Rijke. “This drug has taken decades to develop, and while it’s not without risk, it’s proven to be a highly effective medicine for people with relapsing remitting MS. We look forward to seeing it made available to those who could benefit.”

Genzyme also has another MS drug on the market in the UK called Aubagio. This treatment for MS also went through a similar process and became publically available at British hospitals last month.  

Although Lemtrada has been approved by the European Commission and by British regulators, it is still being evaluated for approval by the US FDA. This past December, the FDA rejected the drug over safety concerns. But in April, the FDA and Genzyme announced that the company would be working with the FDA to resubmit the drug’s approval application.

Genzyme is based out of Cambridge and functions as the rare disease unit for multinational pharmaceutical giant Sanofi.