ZolgensmaTM / AVXS-101

Pages in this website section last updated 13th April

Recent Headlines

13th April 2021
SMA UK Responds to NICE’s Evaluation Consultation for Access to Zolgensma

8th March 2021
SMA Gene Therapy Treatment Zolgensma Accepted for Restricted Use within NHS Scotland

8th March 2021
NICE Releases its Evaluation Consultation Document (ECD) on Zolgensma in England

Scroll down further for:

  • What is it?
  • How it works
  • Access in the UK
  • The European Clinical Consensus Statement
  • When and what marketing authorisation has it had in the USA and Europe?
  • Global Access Programme
  • Clinical Trials
  • Our work that has helped 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.

Read more

Access in the UK


On 8th March 2021, NHS England announced a landmark agreement giving access to some children who have SMA Type 1. On 16th March, they provided us with an update on how this will work and which groups of children may potentially be eligible. Their original announcement is here.

The regulatory authority NICE (the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) has backed this agreement but has to still complete its appraisal of the treatment and issue final guidance. You can read about the next steps for this here, and go directly to NICE’s website for full information, here (scroll to the bottom to read about our work on access and submissions to NICE).

There is a lot of work now going on to establish this service as quickly as possible. You can see the latest questions we have asked NHS England, and Novartis Gene Therapies about this. We will keep adding answers as soon as we receive them. Please see England Q and A page.


On the same day, the Scottish Medicines Consortium concluded the first Health Technology Appraisal of Zolgensma in Europe announcing its own landmark decision giving access to some children who have SMA Type 1. There is more information here (scroll to the bottom to read about our work on access and submissions to the SMC).

There is a lot of work now going on to establish this service as quickly as possible. Patient groups have gathered questions from the community which are being answered by Scottish regulatory authorities, clinicians and Novartis Gene Therapies. We will keep adding answers to these questions as soon as we receive them. Please see Scotland Q and A page.

Wales and Northern Ireland

These devolved countries generally follow the advice of NICE. 

The European Clinical Consensus Statement

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. 


When and what marketing authorisation has it had in the USA and Europe?

  • 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 2020, The 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. Read more about this approval, here.

Global Managed Access Programme

In January 2020, Novartis Gene Therapies rolled out a Global Managed Access Programme (GMAP).

Early access programmes are available up until a treatment receives marketing authorisation from the regulatory authority that has jurisdiction over a country. Access stops at this point even if the country has not made an agreement to provide the treatment for its potentially eligible citizens.

This programme was not available in the UK for regulatory reasons - read more.

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.


Our Work that has Helped 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. 

You can read our submission and the survey results, here.

We nominated two Patient Experts jointly with MDUK. They were selected along with two others (nominated by Treat SMA and the Ali Cadence Trust) and joined two clinical experts to give evidence when the NICE committee met to appraise the treatment on 8th October 2020. Following this, on 8th March 2021, NICE released its draft recommendations for consultation. You can read our 
response to these
. The final committee meeting is on 13th May 2021.

We are also working closely with NHS England and Novartis Gene Therapies to support the set up of this new service.


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. Our Patient Representatives attended the Patient and Clinician Engagement (PACE) meeting. The SMC announcement acknowledges their advice takes account of the views expressed at this meeting. 

Our involvement and advocacy in the earlier steps of this process started in October 2018. You can find a summary here.  

​Read more

Read more about access routes in the UK

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