Asthma UK will continue to push for access to new ‘life-changing’ drug in face of initial rejection from The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) announced that they have initially rejected the use of dupilumab, the newest biologic drug to treat severe asthma, the most life-threatening form of the condition.  

It’s estimated that 200,000 people in the UK are currently affected by severe asthma, a condition so serious that it doesn’t respond to usual treatments, putting patients in a never-ending cycle of terrifying asthma attacks and emergency trips to hospital.  

Many are forced to take long-term, high-dose oral steroids that can cause toxic side effects including diabetes, cataracts and osteoporosis.  

The latest form of biological drugs called monoclonal antibodies, often referred to as ‘biologics’ or ‘mAbs’, have provided a lifeline for some people with severe asthma helping to transform their health.  

However, for others, the current biologics are not working, making it essential for more - and better – treatments to be made available as soon as possible.  

While the initial rejection of dupilumab is a setback, Asthma UK will continue to push for access to drugs which have the power to boost the lives of thousands of people suffering from severe or difficult asthma.  

Responding to the news, Joe Farrington-Douglas, Head of Policy and External Affairs at Asthma UK, said: 

“We are disappointed in today’s announcement but remain steadfast in our efforts to improve access to these life changing drugs.  

“The issue we face is that severe asthma is an unpredictable condition. Even if a patient meets the limited criteria for one of the biologic drugs currently available, they may still not respond to treatment.  

“Therefore, the approval of more biologics such as dupilumab are crucial for people with severe asthma to help manage their condition and live healthier lives.  

“We call for NICE and the drug company to get back around the table to agree access for NHS patients as soon as possible.”  

 -ENDS- 

 For further information, please contact: 

Amisha Desai, Media Officer Asthma UK, adesai@auk-blf.org.uk / 0207 786 5004 

Notes to Editors: 

Around 200,000 people in the UK have severe asthma – around 4% of the people with asthma in the UK. It affects both adults and children, can develop at any age and is the most serious and life-threatening form of the condition. This debilitating type of asthma often doesn’t respond well to regular asthma treatments, so people are forced to take oral steroid tablets that can cause toxic side effects such as diabetes and osteoporosis. Many still struggle with potentially life-threatening asthma symptoms and need repeated trips to hospital. Monoclonal antibodies, often referred to as ‘MABS’ or ‘biologics’, are the latest types of medicine used to treat severe asthma. Dupilumab is the newest biologic drug is this group and Asthma UK will continue to push for its approval. We want to see greater investment into research for severe asthma so that new treatments and diagnostic tools can be developed and a severe asthma registry to help track the use of new treatments 

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 About Asthma UK: 

  • In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12). 
  • Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack, and tragically two thirds of these deaths are preventable. 
  • Every ten seconds someone in the UK has an asthma attack. 
  • Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack. 
  • The Asthma UK Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 0300 222 5800. 
  • For more information about asthma please visit www.asthma.org.uk