The Australian government has announced that Zinbryta (daclizumab) is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the treatment of relapsing remitting MS.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) considered submissions from the community, including one from MS Research Australia, recommending that Zinbryta be available for reimbursement. This became a reality on the 1st of May 2017, with it officially being included on the PBS.
Zinbryta is registered for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS to delay the progression of physical disability and to reduce the frequency of relapses (please see our earlier article here). It is given as an injection once a month releasing an antibody that blocks the activity of interleukin-2, a chemical messenger of the immune system. It interferes with the activation and growth of immune cells that attack nerve cells to produce episodes of relapsing remitting MS.
Daclizumab is already in clinical use for the prevention of kidney transplant rejection and was tested as a treatment for MS in some phase III clinical trials. The outcomes of these trials were reported here and here. These trials demonstrated that people taking daclizumab had fewer clinical relapses, fewer new or enlarging lesions on MRIs, and a slower progression of disability.
As people with MS respond differently to treatments and the side-effects of each drug differs, a wider range of treatment choices is a vital development. MS Research Australia welcomes the addition of this medication to the PBS. The addition of a further affordable treatment option for relapsing remitting MS will enable people with MS and their doctors to find effective therapies suited to their individual circumstances, enabling them to reduce the impact of MS on their lives. Individuals with MS should discuss any new treatment options with their neurologist.
Australian Government PBS links and definitions are available here.