Four charities call on SMC to approve treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Published Date
Alice Cachia
Open orange bottle containing white pills

A group of charities, including Muscular Dystrophy UK, is urging for the approval of a drug that can treat an underlying genetic cause of a life-limiting muscle-wasting condition.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) primarily affects boys and causes muscles to weaken and waste over time, with most of those affected needing to use a wheelchair by the age of 12. The life-limiting condition also causes other severe health problems to the heart and breathing muscles.

The drug Translarna, however, can help treat cases of a version of Duchenne that is caused by nonsense mutations.

Today (Tuesday March 2), Muscular Dystrophy UK, Action Duchenne, Duchenne Family Support Group and Duchenne UK are appearing before the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) to represent patients who could benefit from Translarna and to seek its approval for use on the NHS in Scotland.

In its joint submission to the SMC ahead of today’s meeting, the charities outlined evidence from a survey conducted earlier this year. They provided evidence that highlights clear improvements to quality of life reported by those receiving the drug.

Significantly, many families of children receiving Translarna say they retained the ability to walk for longer than expected, and that this gave their child greater independence to complete daily tasks and take part in activities with friends. Families also reported huge behaviour improvements at school and home, as well as positive mental health outcomes.

If SMC approves the submission, Translarna would be the first treatment routinely available through the NHS in Scotland that addresses an underlying genetic cause of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

One parent who took part in the survey, and whose thoughts were included as evidence in the submission, explained:

“For our son knowing that he has a medication to help his muscles is a massive boost to him. We believe that every time we receive our Translarna it lifts his spirits in this fight. We never for a moment take for granted how lucky we are to be receiving this drug and feel it’s something in our corner as we face this battle head on.”

If approved, Translarna would be given in addition to the current standard treatments on the NHS in Scotland.

Robert Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at MDUK, said:

“Every day is a race against time to slow down Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive condition that robs children of their ability to walk and their independence. We were really pleased to have worked together with Action Duchenne, Duchenne Family Support Group and Duchenne UK in representing the voices of patients in our joint submission to the SMC. We believe the submission highlights both the physical and mental health benefits of Translarna, a drug that has the potential to improve lives for so many families. We very much look forward to hearing the SMC committee’s thoughts on our submission.”

Elsewhere, Translarna is currently available in England for those aged between two and five under a Managed Access Agreement. More information on this can be read here.

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