Children with growth disorders will get ‘Lionel Messi vaccine’ on NHS

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

A revolutionary ‘Lionel Messi injection’ may soon be available on the NHS that will allow children with growth disorders to have weekly rather than daily injections.

The Argentine World Cup winner was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency (GHE) as a child. The genetic condition meant that she wasn’t able to produce enough of a natural chemical that is effective in development called human growth hormone (HGH).

Barcelona signed a 12-year-old young Messi and paid for his daily treatments, which he previously said had been injected into his own leg every night. Currently, all children treated for GHD also had to receive daily injections.

But now NICE advises clinicians to move away from inappropriate and often uncomfortable daily injections in favor of a weekly course of treatment.

Weekly somatrogon injections are now adjusted to replace daily doses of somatropin. Both treatments are synthetic versions of HGH made in the pituitary gland of GHD patients.

The data show that both forms of treatment are equally effective and equally cost-effective; The weekly vaccine is now recommended as it interferes less with children’s lives.

Children over the age of three will be eligible to receive treatment if diagnosed with GHD.



The guidelines state that treatment costs range from £166.08 to £343.45 per 1.2ml bottle, 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,” says the NICE guideline. Treatment will be available to patients through the NHS.

The guide will now be sent to Pfizer, the drug’s manufacturer, and is expected to be available to patients in early 2023.

Helen Knight, NICE Director of Drug Evaluation, said: “The Somatrogon recommendation is a welcome development for the care of children with growth disorders caused by growth hormone deficiency.

“This is also a milestone for us as an organization as we are able to evaluate this drug 25 percent faster and we hope to further improve this in future issues as part of this new method of proportional study.

“We want to quickly provide the best care for patients while providing value for money for taxpayers and at the same time creating helpful and useful advice for the NHS.

“NICE is currently one of the fastest health technology evaluation organizations in the world to evaluate new drugs.

“This pilot will help us maintain a flexible and proportionate approach to assessments and further accelerate the pace at which we make recommendations about promising new treatments.”

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