ANS includes the world’s most expensive drug in health plan coverage
The world’s most expensive drug, Zolgensma, has just been included in the coverage of Brazilian health plans. The drug, which treats Spinal Muscular Atrophy (AME), will be available to patients nationwide later this week and can be obtained with a prescription from a specialist.
The decision was made by the National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS) following the instructions of the Ministry of Health, which included Zolgensma in the Unified Health System (SUS) in December 2022.
Zolgensma is also considered the only effective treatment for SMA to date. The initiative was highly appreciated by the parents, who are fighting in court for the right to treatment, which is given to the patient in one dose.
Inclusion in health apparel
Zolgensma will begin offering it to patients with health plans after the listing of procedures in the Official Journal (DOU) is published, which should happen later this week, according to ANS.
In addition to the world’s most expensive drug, health insurance plans also cover Dupilumab for the treatment of adult patients with severe atopic dermatitis; Zanubrutinib, for the treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL); and Romosozumab for the treatment of women age 70 and older with postmenopausal osteoporosis.
What is AME?
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare and potentially fatal genetic disease. The neurological disorder affects the nerves responsible for muscle movement, leading to a gradual loss of muscle strength.
Atrophy has some features, such as:
- it is passed from parents to children.
- it is caused by changes in the gene that produces the protein SMN, which protects motor neurons;
- without this protein, these neurons die and do not send nerve impulses from the spinal cord to the muscles;
- this interferes with the ability to move, walk, swallow and even breathe. It can lead to death.
The disease ranges from type 0 (before birth) to type 4 (second or third decade of life), depending on the degree of muscle dysfunction and the age at which the first symptoms appear.
SMA currently affects 1 in every 11,000 live births.
The drug, which is administered intravenously, was approved by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) in September 2020 and is manufactured by the Swiss biotech company Novartis.
Zolgensma is considered to be the most expensive drug in the world, costing about 7 million rupees per patient, making it unaffordable for the majority of the population.
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In December 2022, the National Commission for the Implementation of New Technologies in Health (Conitec) gave a positive opinion on the introduction of Zolgensma, “the most expensive drug in the world”, also by SUS.
The decision was announced by then health minister Marcelo Queiroga on Twitter and widely celebrated by family members and patients.
Só Notícia Boa reported the news and you can read the full story by clicking here.
According to ANS.