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NICE approves Remicade

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has approved Schering-Plough's psoriasis drug Remicade for use on the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has approved Schering-Plough's psoriasis drug Remicade (infliximab) for use on the NHS. 

NICE approved the drug for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in October 2007. 

Remicade is approved for use within its licensed indications for the treatment of adults with very severe plaque psoriasis when specific criteria are met. Remicade can be prescribed on the NHS if disease is very severe as defined by a total Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI) of 20 or more and a Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) of more than 18; the psoriasis also has to have failed to respond to standard systematic therapies such as ciclosporin, methotrexate or PUVA (psoralen and long-wave ultraviolet radiation), or the person is intolerant to or has a contraindication to these treatments.

If patients have not shown an adequate response after 10 weeks, they are to be taken off the drug. An adequate response is defined as either a 75 per cent reduction in the PASI score from when treatment started (PASI 75) or a 50 per cent reduction in the PASI score (PASI 50) and a five-point reduction in DLQI from when treatment started. 

"Psoriasis is a long term chronic condition and for many people it can have a profound social and psychological impact on their lives. We welcome the NICE approval of infliximab as it increases the treatment options available to those people who have severe psoriasis for whom previous treatments have been unsuccessful or inappropriate," said Gladys Edwards, chief executive of the Psoriasis Association.

Greater options

Remicade's approval follows the EMEA's licensing approval of Abbott's psoriasis drug Humira in early January 2008. 

Humira has been licensed as a treatment for moderate-to-severe chronic plaque psoriasis in the UK. Humira is the first fully human anti-TNF (tumour necrosis factor) monoclonal antibody approved for the treatment of plaque psoriasis. Psoriasis is a recurrent inflammatory skin disorder that affects around 2 per cent of the UK population.

24th January 2008


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