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NICE recommends AstraZeneca's Fasenra as third treatment option for severe asthma

Published on 04/01/19 at 12:25pm

It’s good news for both asthma patients and AstraZeneca after UK drug watchdog NICE saw fit to recommend the drugmaker’s Fasenra (benralizumab) injection as a new option on the NHS in England and Wales for those living with severe forms of the disease.

The decision means that Fasenra becomes the third biological treatment available on routine use for the treatment of severe eosinophilic asthma, alongside GlaxoSmithKline’s Nucala (mepolizumab), recommended in December 2016, and Teva’s Cinqaero (reslizumab), recommended in October 2017. Those eligible for the other two options will now also be eligible to receive Fasenra.

The recommendation came after AstraZeneca offered an improved patient access scheme for the drug, leading NICE to shift from its earlier stance and determine Fasenra to be a cost-effective use of NHS resources. Previously, the treatment had only been available for those with an eosinophil cell count of over 400 and had had at least three exacerbations in the previous year, and only when GSK’s Nucala is not appropriate.

The first three doses of the injection are administered every four weeks, and every eight weeks after that, offering convenience over the two other available medications which must be taken every four weeks throughout treatment.  

“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,” explained Meindert Boysen, Director of NICE’s Centre for Health Technology Evaluation. “By keeping their asthma under better control, biological treatments have transformed the lives of some of these sufferers.

“This recommendation of a further biological option demonstrates how a competitive pharmaceuticals market combined with NICE’s appraisal process provides the NHS and patients with value-for-money and choice.”

Matt Fellows

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