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NICE approves third biological treatment for asthma

Friday 11th January 2019
A third biological drug will now be available on the NHS for asthma sufferers.
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The National Institute of Health and Clinical excellence (NICE) has recommended that a third biological treatment be available for asthma sufferers, in order to provide more patient choice. 

It has backed the use of Benralizumab by the NHS in England and Wales as a cost-effective means of treating severe eosinophilic asthma. It will be used by adults who have had difficulty controlling this condition with inhalers. 

Described by NICE as an "uncommon and relatively uninvestigated form" of the condition, it is believed around 100,000 people in the UK suffer from eosinophilic asthma.

Subject to any appeals against the decision, the guidance will be published next month and the drug will then be available on the NHS in England within the following three months. 

Benralizumab is made by AstraZeneca and also goes under the name Fasendra. It works by targeting and depleting the immune cells in the blood, called eosinophils, that cause the condition. 

It is delivered in the form of an injection once every four weeks for the first three doses, and every eight weeks afterwards. 

The treatment is the third biological remedy NICE has recommended for use on the NHS, following the decisions to support the use of mepolizumab in December 2016 and reslizumab in October 2017. Patients using either of those treatments can now opt to try Benralizumab instead. The other two drugs need to be injected more frequently, meaning the newest drug may be more convenient as well as appealing more to those with an aversion to injections.

Director of NICE’s Centre for Health Technology Evaluation Meindert Boysen said: “People with severe eosinophilic asthma that is inadequately controlled often have a severely impaired quality of life - it can hold them back from doing many basic daily tasks, lead to psychological problems including anxiety and depression, and leave them in constant fear of a potentially lethal asthma attack. 

"By keeping their asthma under better control, biological treatments have transformed the lives of some of these sufferers."

 Written by James Puckle

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