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Nonsensical NICE bars asthma drug


Health regulators have been criticised for denying young children access to a “pioneering” drug for severe asthma.

Xolair, which is already approved for adults, has “little extra benefit compared with existing treatments” and should not be offered on the NHS to children between the ages of six and 11, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said in a statement.

But campaign groups such as Asthma UK have branded the move “nonsensical”, saying the drug, which is injected into the skin in cases where asthma has not responded to conventional treatment, offers patients “massive improvements” in their quality of life.

Dr Mike Thomas, chief medical adviser to Asthma UK, said: “Hundreds of children across England with the most severe, allergic asthma will now be denied a pioneering treatment that could free them from crippling daily asthma symptoms, endless trips to hospital and huge amounts of time off school.”

The draft guidance is subject to appeal.

Copyright Press Association 2010

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

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