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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Major step forward for multiple sclerosis treatment

Major step forward for multiple sclerosis treatment
Funding for newer and more effective multiple sclerosis treatments has been approved by PHARMAC.
About 600 people currently receive funded MS treatments. PHARMAC estimates this could grow by about 400 over the next few years, with the change in criteria and improved choice of treatments.
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 fingolimod (Gilenya) and natalizumab (Tysabri), PHARMAC has also approved changes to the way MS treatments will be funded. From 1 November all treatments will be funded from first diagnosis.
Director of Operations Sarah Fitt says the changes are the most significant in more than 15 years, since MS treatments were first funded.
“Until now the beta interferons and glatiramer have been the only medicines funded for MS, and people have needed to show a level of disability before medicines were funded. Evidence shows natalizumab and fingolimod are more effective than the currently funded MS treatments, and that they are most effective when used early in disease progression.” she says.
“So this decision really is a major step forward in how this serious and progressive neurological condition is treated, and will lead to better pharmaceutical treatment for people with MS in New Zealand.”


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