NICE recommends new drug to help patients with severe asthma

Mepolizumab could assist people who have few treatment options available.

Patients with severe asthma could have access to a new drug following its recommendation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

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Mepolizumab is the first biologic therapy that stops the activity of interleukin-5 (IL-5) in severe asthma.

IL-5 attracts eosinophils, which are white blood cells that can cause inflammation in the lungs; this can affect the airways, limit breathing and increase the frequency of asthma attacks.

The treatment will be made available to patients with severe refractory eosinophilic asthma, who currently have few treatment options available to them, in specialist centres across England and Wales.

Patients will be given the treatment by injection every four weeks.

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will provide the drug to the NHS under the brand name Nucala.

GSK reduced the price of the drug so it could be recommended as cost-effective for the NHS.

Respiratory nurse consultant Jane Scullion said: ‘The announcement by NICE is welcome because it gives us an additional therapeutic option for those with severe eosinophilic asthma that is not controlled on conventional therapies.’

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