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UK patients with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis gain access to a range of biologic therapies on the NHS

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued its Final Appraisal Document (FAD) recommending REMICADE® (infliximab), HUMIRA® (adalimumab) and SIMPONI® (golimumab), within their marketing authorisations, as options for treating moderately to severely active (UC) in adults whose disease has responded inadequately to conventional therapy including corticosteroids and mercaptopurine or azathioprine, or who cannot tolerate, or have medical contraindications for, such therapies.1 SIMPONI is recommended only if MSD provides the 100mg dose at the same cost as the 50mg dose, as agreed in the patient access scheme.

Additionally, the NICE FAD recommends REMICADE, within its marketing authorisation, as an option for treating severely active UC in children and young people aged 6-17 years whose disease has responded inadequately to conventional therapy, including corticosteroids and mercaptopurine or azathioprine, or who cannot tolerate, or have medical contraindications for, such therapies. This is the first time that children with moderately to severely active UC have been granted access to these therapies in the UK. Previously, access was limited to children with acute severe UC as an alternative to ciclosporin, and in Scotland only.2

Chris Probert, Professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Liverpool, Honorary Consultant Gastroenterologist at Royal Liverpool Hospital, chair of the IBD Committee for the British Society of Gastroenterology and vice-chair of the Clinical Advisers Committee for Crohn’s and Colitis UK, says: “This is great news for our patients with ulcerative colitis. It is the first new class of drugs to be approved by NICE for ulcerative colitis and is a valuable tool in our armamentarium in the fight against ulcerative colitis. Hopefully most patients will not require such drugs, but it is a great comfort to know that we can use them when we need to”.

The NICE recommendation marks a significant step-change in improving access to treatment options for patients with moderately to severely active disease. Previous NICE guidance restricted the use of biologic therapies only for those hospitalised with severe UC, leaving those with moderately to severely active UC facing surgery if conventional therapies failed.

Helen Terry, Director of Policy at patient organisation Crohn’s and Colitis UK, says: “This is fantastic news for people with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis as it gives them much-needed additional treatment options. We know that these drugs can be life-transforming for people who live with these extremely debilitating symptoms, and who have had problems or no success with other treatments and may be facing surgery. We very much welcome this landmark decision.”