Adults with severe asthma will soon have access to GSK’s new injectable asthma drug mepolizumab, also known as Nucala, after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends it for NHS use.
NICE initially did not recommend mepolizumab because evidence the makers, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) presented did not reflect how this asthma drug would be used in the NHS. However, after GSK provided more information and reduced the price of the drug meaning, NICE said that Nucala could be recommended as cost effective for the NHS, said NICE on Thursday.
Mepolizumab is a new type of medicine that targets a specific cause of asthma for the first time, NICE explained. Mepolizumab is the first biologic treatment to target immune cells called eosinophils.
In draft guidance NICE says that adults with severe symptoms should have access to mepolizumab. This includes adults who suffer many asthma attacks or those taking regular oral steroids.
Professor Carole Longson, director of the NICE centre for health technology evaluation said: “Around 100,000 adults in England and Wales have severe asthma that cannot be controlled with their regular medicines. Symptoms such as constant breathlessness can make it hard to carry out simple day-to-day activities.”
“Asthma attacks can come without any warning so people often live in fear, afraid to go out. If they do suffer from an attack, it may lead to hospitalisation and in the worst cases death.”
“Adults with severe asthma have had limited treatment options. Many end up taking oral corticosteroids for prolonged periods which can cause further complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure and mood swings.”
NICE is also appraising another drug called reslizumab or Cinqaero for severe eosinophilic asthma. After the first appraisal meeting NICE asked Teva, who market it, to provide more information on the cost-effectiveness of reslizumab for the committee to review.