NICE updates guidance and extends use of omalizumab in severe allergic asthma

Omalizumab (Xolair) has been accepted by NICE for broader use in the treatment of severe persistent immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated asthma.

Previously treatment with omalizumab could only be initiated on the NHS if the patient had severe exacerbations which required hospital admission (pictured) | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Previously treatment with omalizumab could only be initiated on the NHS if the patient had severe exacerbations which required hospital admission (pictured) | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

It can now be used on the NHS for adults and children from 6 years of age who need continuous or frequent treatment with oral corticosteroids (≥4 courses in the previous year), provided the manufacturer supplies it with the discount agreed in the patient access scheme.

Omalizumab must be used as an add-on to optimised standard therapy, defined as a full trial of (and, if tolerated, documented compliance with) inhaled high-dose corticosteroids, long-acting ß2-agonists, leukotriene receptor antagonists, theophylline, oral corticosteroids and smoking cessation if clinically appropriate.

In its assessment, NICE noted the ‘life-changing’ effect of omalizumab reported by patients and concluded that omalizumab as an add-on to optimised standard therapy is more clinically effective in treating severe persistent allergic asthma than optimised standard therapy alone, leading to a reduction in total emergency visits (including hospital admissions, A&E visits and unscheduled GP visits) in adults, reduced hospital admissions in children, improved lung function in adults and a reduction in the frequency and use of rescue medication and oral corticosteroids.

View Xolair drug record

NICE guidance on omalizumab

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