On the Healthcare Agenda

Go-ahead for oral treatment for MS

MS: Go-ahead for oral treatment
MS: Go-ahead for oral treatment

In a nutshell

The first oral treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) is now available in the UK after being given the green light by regulators. Fingolimod, branded as Gilenya, has been authorised for those with high-relapsing MS who have failed to respond to an Interferon (injection), or for those with rapidly evolving severe disease. It is hoped the new drug, manufactured by Novartis, will cut the cost of treating MS and help patients who have failed to respond to current available treatments.

What is MS?

MS is an condition affecting 100,000 people in the UK, whereby a person's immune system attacks their own brain and spinal cord. The damage caused can make it difficult for messages to travel from the brain to various parts of the body, resulting in various symptoms including difficulty in walking, fatigue, blurred vision or loss of sight, and bowel and bladder incontinence, as well as lifelong disability. The cost of treating relapses in hospital is estimated to be £3,034 per episode.

PR strategy

Healthcare comms agency Aurora and the Novartis in-house team worked closely with patient organisations MS Society and MS Trust to deliver the media outreach.

A press release and broadcast alert were sent out under embargo for 19 April, alongside fact sheets, supporting footage and videos of patients.

Media coverage

The story was covered widely in the UK media. Highlights included BBC Breakfast, Sky News, the Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun and the Daily Mirror.

100k - The approximate number of people in the UK affected by MS

£3,034 - Amount it costs the NHS for an MS relapse, per patient

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