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NICE thumbs-up for Abilify

Published on 07/06/13 at 09:50am
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Adolescents who suffer from bipolar disorder should be treated on the NHS with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals’ Abilify, according to draft guidance from NICE.

The health guidance watchdog says Abilify (aripiprazole) should be used to treat moderate to severe manic episodes in adolescent sufferers who are 13 years and older for up to 12 weeks.

NICE has decided that the drug is as effective as other antipsychotics for treating acute mania and has a similar adverse reaction profile, so should be an option for doctors.

Depending on the dose, Abilify - which is also indicated to treat schizophrenia - costs between £287.22 and £574.41 for a 12-week course and it was decided that this represents value for money.

“As aripiprazole works at least as well as the existing treatment, our independent appraisal committee now recommends it as an option for treating moderate to severe manic episodes in adolescents with bipolar I disorder,” explained Professor Carole Longson, director, Centre for Health Technology Evaluation.

The new document focuses specifically on this age group - NICE has already published a clinical guideline on the overall management of bipolar disorder in adults, children and adolescents.

The condition can have a severe effect on children’s lives and early treatment is important, NICE says, so that they do not have their schooling interrupted or family life disrupted, and so that the impact on carers is reduced.

“Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition which is characterised by episodes of mania and depression,” says Longson. “During a manic episode, the young person usually experiences irritability, poor concentration, little need for sleep and poor temper control.”

Clinical specialists told NICE that no single antipsychotic drug is considered to be more clinically effective than the others, but that tolerability and adverse reactions vary between the treatments.

NICE recommends that Lilly’s Zyprexa, AstraZeneca’s Seroquel, Janssen’s Risperdal, valproate or lithium should be considered in adults for acute attacks.

Adam Hill


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