Siponimod approved for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis

A drug which was rejected by the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) in June has now been approved for use on the NHS in England and Wales as the first ever oral treatment for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). A few days before this, the drug was approved for use in Scotland, and a decision from Northern Ireland is also expected over the next few months.

The treatment is available to those whose SPMS is active, which means they are still having relapses or there is evidence of inflammation on their MRI scans.

Taken as a daily tablet, siponimod is the first new medication for SPMS in more than 10 years, and has been shown to reduce the risk of disability progression by 37% compared with a placebo.

The treatment can also improve the speed at which the brain processes information, which can boost aspects of memory and thinking.

Some side effects have been recorded in those taking siponimod. These include low white blood cell count, increased liver enzyme levels, slower heart rate when starting treatment, macular oedema (swelling in the back of the eye affecting vision), high blood pressure, shingles, and convulsions.