2 The technology
2.1 Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada, Genzyme) is an antibody that binds to cells of the immune system (B and T cells), causing their destruction. The way in which alemtuzumab slows the decline of active relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis is not fully understood. Alemtuzumab has a UK marketing authorisation for treating adults with relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis with active disease defined by clinical or imaging features. The recommended dosage of alemtuzumab is 12 mg/day administered by intravenous infusion for 2 treatment courses. The initial treatment course lasts 5 consecutive days, followed 12 months later by the second treatment course of 3 consecutive days.
2.2 The summary of product characteristics lists the following adverse reactions for alemtuzumab: autoimmunity (immune thrombocytopenic purpura, thyroid disorders, nephropathies [kidney diseases or damage], cytopenias [reduced blood cell numbers]), infusion-associated reactions, rash, headache, fever and respiratory tract infections. For full details of adverse reactions and contraindications, see the summary of product characteristics.
2.3 The price of alemtuzumab is £7045 per 12 mg vial, which equates to £56,360 for the full course of treatment consisting of 5 daily consecutive 12 mg doses in year 1, followed by 3 daily consecutive 12 mg doses 12 months later in year 2. Costs may vary in different settings because of negotiated procurement discounts.