23 October 2018

More patients to be given access to innovative MS treatment through new Government ‘rapid uptake’ scheme

An innovative Multiple Sclerosis (MS) treatment, brought to market as a result of clinical trials by teams at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London and University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, has been named as a ‘rapid uptake’ product to be made accessible to more patients through the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC).

The Government is investing £2 million to support greater patient access to these products, all of which have proven clinical effectiveness but are yet to be made available for widespread use in the UK.

Cladribine, a drug traditionally used in an injectable form to treat leukaemia and lymphoma, has been clinically proven to be an effective oral treatment for highly active MS, reducing relapses. Unlike other MS treatments on the market, Cladribine tablets should speed up the treatment time for patients as they can be prescribed more widely and safely be taken at home. This treatment also requires less monitoring by clinical teams, potentially reducing pressure on NHS services.

Cladribine tablets, developed and trialed within the UCLPartners footprint, have already successfully treated over 200 patients but its availability to date has been limited, with approximatley 25 specialist prescribing units in England able to prescribe the drug.

Professor of Neurology, Gavin Giovannoni, who was Principle Investigator in the trial instrumental in bringing this drug to market said: “Our trials have shown that this drug is effective in stopping relapses in patients with MS. It’s affordable, easy to administer at home and requires less monitoring than alternatives. Making it on to the ‘rapid uptake’ scheme gives me great hope that we’ll soon be able to make this drug available via more sites, reducing waiting times and giving MS patients across the UK the opportunity to benefit from this innovative treatment.”

The ‘rapid uptake’ products, selected by UK health and care leaders, will be spread through the AHSN Network’s Innovation Exchanges, which match solutions to the needs of their local health and care systems. This ‘rapid uptake’ support aims to help 500,000 patients to access new treatments and, provide cost savings to the NHS of £30 million, while helping to reinforce the UK’s position as a global leader in health innovation.

Professor Steve Thornton, Vice Principal Health Queen Mary University of London said: “It is gratifying to see the hard work of our researchers being translated into treatments that will be available across the country.”

Dr Charlie Davie, Managing Director of UCLPartners said: “We’re excited that this important MS treatment developed in our footprint, through our Academic Health Science Centre, will now receive dedicated support to ensure patients who could benefit from the drug are able to access it with ease.

“As an AHSN, UCLPartners is well placed to support the spread and adoption of these ‘rapid uptake’ products in our region and we’ll be working closely with our partners over the coming months, helping them to access these products that have the potential to transform patients’ lives”

See the full list of products selected by the AAC here