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New relapsing MS medications recommended for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

At the November meeting of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), two new medications for the treatment of relapsing remitting MS received positive recommendations for inclusion on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

A modified version of Interferon-beta 1a, recently approved for the treatment of relapsing remitting MS by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, has received preliminary approval for inclusion on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Known as Plegridy (PEGylated Interferon-beta 1a), the new medication breaks down much more slowly in the body meaning injections can be given less frequently.

This decision is the first step in a process which will now see the decision go before the federal Government Cabinet for final approval. If approved, it will then allow people with MS across Australia access to this important new treatment option.

We have previously reported clinical results here showing the efficacy of Plegridy in reducing the risk of relapses, compared to placebo; more recently, long-term outcomes were reported showing the efficacy of Plegridy is maintained beyond one year with no loss of effect or additional safety concerns.

At the same PBAC meeting in November, Lemtrada (Alemtuzumab) received further consideration after receiving an initial positive recommendation in July 2014, but with a requirement for further information.

MS Research Australia understands that following these negotiations Lemtrada will also proceed to the next stages of consideration for inclusion on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and we anticipate that both Lemtrada and Plegridy will be available in Australia in 2015.

The PBAC is required to consider a number of factors when making recommendations, including the clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a treatment, relative to other medicines, and the cost to the government of a new listing.

MS Research Australia welcomes the availability of further affordable treatment options that have undergone rigorous clinical testing, as this increases the opportunity for people with MS and their doctors to find effective therapies suited to their individual circumstance.

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New relapsing MS medications recommended for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme