Roche's Hemlibra scores funding to treat much larger group of patients in England

London England
About 2,000 hemophilia A patients in England will have access to Roche's Hemlibra under a new funding agreement. (QQ7/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Roche’s Hemlibra has been storming out of the gate since its first approval in 2017. Now, it's set to benefit a much wider patient group in England thanks to new funding from health authorities there.

NHS England on Wednesday unveiled funding for Roche’s drug in hemophilia A patients without blood protein factor VIII inhibitors. Authorities last year approved the drug for people with the inhibitors, a much smaller group of patients.

About 230 hemophilia A patients in England had inhibitors as of a 2015-2016 study, according to NHS England documents. The new development will allow about 2,000 patients to access the Roche drug, authorities said. 

Hemlibra is set to "change lives and lift a weight from thousands of parents," NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said in a statement.

The hemophilia A med won its initial approval in Europe in February 2018 and in March 2019 scored approval to treat patients without inhibitors. Authorities in the U.S. approved the drug in November 2017. 

Since it's been on the market, Hemlibra has been driving strong uptake and turning in big sales figures. During the first half of the year, the med turned in $545 million in global sales.

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The therapy also represents an advance for patients. Chief executive of U.K. charity Haemophilia Society Liz Carroll said in a statement the funding is “fantastic news.” 

“Current treatments can require intravenous infusions multiple times a week which can place a significant burden on people with hemophilia and their carers,” she added. “Today’s decision will mean that people will have the opportunity to have treatment less frequently without intravenous access which will enable many to live their lives more freely.’’ 

About 6,000 people in the U.K. have hemophilia A, according to government documents. About one-third will now be eligible for treatment with Roche’s drug.