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Eli Lilly arthritis drug outperforms Humira and receives NICE backing

Published on 30/06/17 at 10:48am

Eli Lilly’s rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug Olumiant (baricitinib) has been deemed cost-effective by NICE and has been recommended to be used on the NHS for the treatment of severe active forms of the disease which has not responded to intensive therapy with conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), it has emerged.

The drug received its first approval from the European Commission in February for use across the EU, making it the first Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor available for RA after it proved its efficacy over standard of care therapies. This new decision was based on data gathered from Phase 3 trials showing that Olumiant significantly outperformed placebo according to the ACR20 response, a clinical measure which represents at least a 20% improvement in RA activity. The drug proved its superiority in preventing progressive radiographic structural joint damage over placebo – a benefit that held true through 52 weeks of treatment – while it also beat out methotrexate on ACR20.

Perhaps most tellingly, Olumiant also outperformed Abbvie’s Humira, the best-selling drug in the world.

The decision could mean that the Olumiant could be made available on the NHS in the coming months when a final appraisal is made. The drug is costed at £10,501 per person per year, but this will be discounted through a confidential patient access scheme. Interestingly, the drug was rejected by the FDA in April over concerns that additional efficacy data was required to provide a robust case for its approval.  

Matt Fellows

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