Screening for SMA in the newborn screening programme

Ten post jest także dostępny w języku: polski

On 18 February 2021, the Minister of Health signed a decision to introduce an updated newborn screening programme for 2019-2022 in Poland, which will include testing for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

50 lives a year wins normality

The Transparency Council gave a positive opinion on the changes to the “Programme of newborn screening tests in the Poland for the years 2019-2022”, provided that the diagnosed patients are provided with appropriate therapy, while controlling the increase in expenditure of the public payer, informed in a letter from AOTMiT of 8 February 2021. The result of this decision is a change in the newborn screening programme. Accordingly, newborn screening will include testing for SMA.

The programme describes the methodology for screening for SMA. It indicates the specifications of the tests to be used. The first screening test for SMA is to be an RT-PCR test followed by confirmation of the result with the MLPA test. After screening (RT-PCR and MLPA) and a positive result in both tests, patients will be referred to an SMA treatment centre where the results of previous tests will be verified again.

Currently, SMA treatment in Poland is provided with the drug nusinersen (Spinraza), a drug reimbursed from January 2019. The SMA Foundation in Poland reports that starting treatment with nusinersen before the onset of SMA symptoms can prevent them in most cases.

Hope in treating SMA

It is worth noting that as of May 2020, another drug, ZolgenSMA, is conditionally approved in the European Union for the treatment of people with clinical symptoms of the first form of SMA and for people with no more than three copies of the SMN2 gene regardless of the form of SMA. ZolgenSMA is the world’s most expensive drug at around $2.1m per dose, we wrote more about this here.

The SMA Foundation states that: “to the best of our available knowledge, outside the United States, the drug Zolgensma is reimbursed by the public healthcare system in the following countries: Austria (with annual limit and restrictions), Brazil (as per registration indication), Czech Republic (with restrictions), France (with restrictions), Israel (as per registration indication), Japan, Qatar (as per registration indication but only for Qatari citizens), Germany (with restrictions), Slovakia (with restrictions), Switzerland (with restrictions, on an early access basis), Italy (with restrictions).”

As of 1 January 2020, there were more than 720 people on the Polish SMA Register. Annually, the number of SMA cases diagnosed in Poland is estimated at 40-45, of which approximately 80% of cases are detected in infancy.

Source: SMA Foundation/AOTMiT

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