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‘Landmark’ take-at-home MS drug approved for use on the NHS in Scotland

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A groundbreaking new take-at-home drug for multiple sclerosis (MS) has been approved for use on the NHS in Scotland.

New drug, ofatumumab (brand name Kesimpta), already had a UK license, but was approved for use on the NHS in Scotland on Monday by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

The approval has the potential to transform treatment for those living with the relapsing remitting form of the disease.

MS patients will now be able to receive treatment at home instead of in hospital.

How can I get Kesimpta?

Today’s approval means Kesimpta will be available to MS patients for free on the NHS.

In theory, it should be available with a prescription from today. However, patients will need to discuss the best treatment option with their doctor or MS nurse.

How does it work?

Kesimpta can be prescribed to those who have relapsing remitting MS — the most common form of the disease which sees symptoms fluctuate over time.

The approval of Kesimpta marks the first time cutting edge ‘b-cell’ therapy for MS will be available to Scottish patients outside hospitals.

B-cell therapies use cloned antibodies to attack the body’s b-cells, a type of cell thought to be behind disease activity in MS patients.

After consultation with a medical professional, the drug can be self-injected at home with an injector pen once every four weeks.

It has shown a significant reduction in the number of relapses compared with other MS medications including teriflunomide.

Disability getting worse was also slowed down by up to 34% compared with another available treatment.

MS in Scotland

Scotland has a particularly high rate of MS worldwide, though it is not entirely sure why.

One possible explanation is geography, with parts of Asia, Africa and America that lie on the equator having extremely low levels of MS, compared with countries such as Scotland and Canada.

Over 15,000 people live with MS in Scotland, with women and people in the north of the country most likely to be affected.

Scotland also has the highest rate of MS in the UK, with 290 people per 100,000 living with the condition.

This is compared with 258 in Northern Ireland, 190 in England and 179 in Wales.

Within Scotland, NHS Tayside is one of the worst affected health boards, with 12.28 people per 100,000 diagnosed with MS annually.

This is second only to NHS Orkney at 17.51 people per 100,000.

‘We have never been closer to stopping MS’

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland said: “It’s very welcome that ofatumumab has been approved for use on the NHS in Scotland.

“MS is relentless, painful, and disabling, and this treatment increases the options for people to manage their condition and help prevent symptoms.

“People with MS often tell us about the convenience of being able to have disease modifying therapy at home instead of in hospital.

“Self injecting ofatumumab could be particularly helpful for people who can’t take time out of work to attend appointments or live far away from their nearest hospital.

“We have never been closer to stopping MS, and this is just the latest in a number of new treatments which have been made available in the past few years for the more than 15,000 people living with MS in Scotland.”

‘There is hope’: Dundee woman shares joy as new MS drug approved for use in Scotland

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