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Asthma drug “not value for money”


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended that a new drug should not be prescribed to children suffering from asthma.

The body said that omalizumab (Xolair, Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK) provides little additional benefit over existing drugs for the treatment of severe allergic asthma in children aged between six and 11.

NICE also said that its high price means omalizumab does not present value for money for the NHS for the limited benefits it provides.

This draft guidance has now been issued for consultation, and NICE is expected to publish its final guidance to the NHS in October 2010.

Although asthma affects approximately 1.1 million children in the UK, only a very small proportion would be eligible to try the drug.

Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said: “Clinical trials demonstrated an effect was only proven for a reduction in the rate of clinically significant exacerbations for children who had had three or more exacerbations per year.

“The Committee also concluded that, considering the very limited benefits omalizumab offers in this age group, the price the NHS is being asked to pay for omalizumab is too high.”

Copyright Press Association 2010

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