National Health Service (NHS) England has entered a deal with Roche to make the Swiss drugmaker’s Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) medicine available at a lower price for routine use.

Ocrevus is indicated to treat primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS ) in adults. The disease results in loss of lower and upper limb function, as well as fatigue and cognitive impairment. Symptoms steadily worsen over time without periods of remission.

“The cost-effectiveness estimates for ocrelizumab at the new lower price compared with best supportive care alone are in the range that NICE considers an acceptable use of NHS resources.”

While the details of the commercial arrangement have not been disclosed, the drug’s list price is around £19,160 per patient per year, based on twice-yearly 600mg infusions.

Ocrevus is a humanised monoclonal antibody (mAb) that selectively targets CD20-positive B-cells.

According to clinical trial data, the drug could slow disease progression and help patients stay active for longer.

Estimates show that 10,000-15,000 people in the UK suffer from the disease, while nearly 2,700 of these patients could be eligible for ocrelizumab therapy.

In September last year, the UK’s pricing regulator published draft guidance rejecting Ocrevus for routine NHS use. At that time, the list price for the drug was £4,790 per 300mg vial.

NICE commented on its latest revision in a press release, saying: “Given the unmet clinical need of people with this form of MS, the cost-effectiveness estimates for ocrelizumab at the new lower price compared with best supportive care alone are in the range that NICE considers an acceptable use of NHS resources.”

Ocrevus was approved by the European Commission (EC) for PPMS in January last year.