ZolgensmaTM / AVXS-101

Pages in this website section last updated 22nd January 2021

Recent Headlines

9th December 2020
Access to Zolgensma Submission Sent to the Scottish Medicines Consortium

29th September 2020
Community Update on AVXS-101 Intrathecal Clinical Development Program

3rd September 2020
AveXis Renamed Novartis Gene Therapies

Scroll down further for:

  • What is it?
  • How it works
  • Clinical Trials
  • Where is it licensed for use?
  • Global Access Programme
  • Progress towards licensing and access in the USA, Europe and the UK
  • Access to this Intravenous Treatment in the UK
  • Our Work to Progress Access in the UK

What Is It?

Pharmaceutical Company, Novartis Gene Therapies (previously AveXis until September 2020), has been leading the development of the gene therapy treatment onasemnogene abeparvovec, trademarked as ZolgensmaTM (previously known as AVXS-101).

How it Works

It uses harmless, genetically-engineered viruses to increase SMN protein levels. A single injection of Zolgensma into the blood is designed to address the genetic root cause of SMA by replacing the faulty or missing SMN1 gene to limit the progression of the condition.

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Clinical Trials

Zolgensma has been, and is still being, tested in several different clinical trials (e.g. START, STR1VE EU, STR1VE, STRONG and SPR1NT), which have enrolled a variety of patients with SMA Types (1-2). The gene therapy has been consistently shown to be safe and well tolerated by those treated with the viruses.

Novartis Gene Therapies (AveXis) was also conducting clinical trials to see if an intrathecal administration route (directly into the fluid bathing the spinal cord and brain) would address the needs of those who are older than 2 years. These clinical trials are currently on hold.

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Where is it licensed for use?

  • On 24th May 2019, IV-delivered Zolgensma was approved in the USA for the treatment of children with SMA under the age of 2 years and for children who are pre-symptomatic (based on their genetics they are very likely to develop SMA).

  • On 19th May 2020The European Commission approved IV-delivered Zolgensma for the treatment of babies and young children who have 5q SMA with a bi-allelic mutation in the SMN1 gene and either a clinical diagnosis of SMA Type 1 or up to three copies of the SMN2 gene.

    According to the approved dosing guidance this covers babies and young children who have SMA up to 21 kg.

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To facilitate the clinical introduction and use of this gene therapy, a group of prominent European neuromuscular experts have provided eleven consensus statements covering many aspects of treatment with onasemnogene abeparvovec. 


Access in the UK

Zolgensma is being assessed as a Highly Specialised 
Technology by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) which will make recommendations to the NHS for the most appropriate use of the treatment. The NICE committee met on 8th October 2020 and is scheduled to report on 25th March 2021. Read more on NICE's website page.

Wales and Northern Ireland generally follow the advice of NICE. 

The SMC (Scottish Medicines Consortium) is also considering its recommendation. The committee meets on 2nd February 2021. Their advice as to whether Zolgensma should be funded by NHS Scotland is expected to be listed on the ‘published’ tab on this page of their website after 2pm on Monday 8th March 2021.

Read more about the NICE process and what happens in the rest of the UK, here.

In January 2020, Novartis Gene Therapies (AveXis) rolled out  a Global Managed Access Programme (GMAP). This was not available in the UK for regulatory reasons - read more. Following the European Commission (EC) marketing authorisation, enrolment in all member states closed for new patients on 19th May 2020 - read more

The UK Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) is only available prior to marketing authorisation, which has now been granted in Europe, so is not an option for UK patient access.

For further information about the steps so far towards UK access, please click here.

Our Work to Progress Access in the UK

After asking people in the SMA Community to complete a survey to let us know their views, we made a joint submission with MDUK to NICE on 7th August 2019 in which we strongly supported access. Our two Patient Experts were nominated jointly with MDUK and joined two other the patient experts and two clinical experts to give evidence when the NICE committee met to appraise the treatment on 8th October 2020. 

​Read more

Working from our survey results and other information from the Community, we made we made a joint submission with MDUK to the Scottish Medicines Consortium on 30th November 2020 in which we strongly supported access. 


Read more about access routes in the UK

Find out what stage other drugs have reached in our drug pipeline