A revolutionized ‘Lionel Messi Jab’ that will allow children with growth disorders to receive weekly injections instead of daily injections may soon be available on the NHS.
The Argentine World Cup winner was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) as a child. The genetic condition meant that he was unable to produce enough of a natural chemical that plays a key role in development called human growth hormone (HGH).
Barcelona have signed a 12-year-old young Messi and paid for his daily treatments which he previously said he injected into his own leg every night. Currently, all children treated for GHD must also receive daily shots.
But now, NICE has recommended that clinicians ditch the inconvenient and often uncomfortable daily injections in favor of weekly treatment.
Weekly injections of somatrogon are now planned to replace daily doses of somatropin. Both treatments are synthetic versions of HGH made in the pituitary gland of GHD sufferers.
Data shows that both forms of treatment are equally effective and equally cost effective, with the weekly jab now being recommended as it is less intrusive on children’s lives.
Children over the age of three will be eligible for treatment if they are diagnosed with GHD.
The guidelines state treatment costs between £166.08 and £343.45 per 1.2ml vial, depending on the dose.
“At the recommended dose of 0.66mg per kg per week, the estimated annual cost for a 40kg patient is £9,500,” NICE says. The treatment will be available to patients through the NHS.
The guidelines will now be sent to the drug’s makers, Pfizer, and are expected to be available to patients in early 2023.
Helen Knight, Director of Drug Evaluation at NICE, said: “The recommendation of somatrogon is a welcome development in the care of children with growth disorder caused by growth hormone deficiency.
“This is also a significant milestone for us as an organization as we were able to assess this drug 25% faster and we plan to further improve this in future topics under this new proportional way of working.
“We want to deliver the best care to patients quickly, whilst ensuring value for money for the taxpayer, and at the same time creating useful and usable advice for the NHS.
“NICE is already one of the fastest health technology assessment bodies in the world to evaluate new drugs.
“This pilot project will help us maintain a flexible and proportionate approach to assessments and further improve the speed with which we provide recommendations on promising new treatments.”