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NICE set to extend MabThera recommendation

Says Roche’s drug can be used on NHS to treat two serious forms of vasculitis

Roche MabThera rituximab

Even more patients in England and Wales are set to have access to Roche's MabThera after it won backing as a treatment for two potentially fatal forms of blood vessel inflammation.

Final draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends MabThera (rituximab) be available for use on the NHS to treat severe forms of granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) and microscopic polyangiitis (MPA).

This guidance follows a somewhat troubled path for MabThera, with NICE initially recommending against the use of the drug to treat MPA and GPA, both of which are types of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis.

This form of vasculitis is caused by abnormal antibodies interacting with white blood cells in the body, resulting in the inflammation and damage of small blood vessels. This can lead to organ damage and even death.

At the time, NICE's objections related to the lack of adequate information provided by Roche, although the pharma company was later able to appease the NICE committee, which backed MabThera in draft guidance published in October last year.

Final NICE approval would open the door for Roche to a market of 13,000 people in the UK who currently have no recommended treatment option for GPA and MPA.

This would expand MabThera's existing presence in the UK, where its original recommendations covered the cancer indications chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Since then, the drug, which is known as Rituxan in the US, has also proven itself as an effective treatment in autoimmune conditions, winning a recommendation to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

John Mills, chairman of Vasculitis UK, explained the importance of the recommendation for vasculitis patients in England and Wales.

He said: “Until today, patients have been treated with chemotherapy and for those who didn't respond to treatment, death and permanent disability was a possibility. MabThera offers patients an additional treatment option which can significantly increase the chance of reaching remission.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

24th January 2014

From: Sales

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