NICE review of Omalizumab

Published on Friday, 09 November 2012 11:57
Posted by Scott Buckler

NICE have published its Appraisal Consultation Document for Omalizumab (also known as Xolair) -­­ a treatment for severe allergic asthma manufactured by Novartis. They have not recommended that it is prescribed for anyone with severe persistent allergic asthma

It is important to note three things: 1) This is the initial consultation and not NICE's final recommendation, which will be made in early 2013. We hope that NICE will reconsider its decision between now and then. 2) This decision formally applies to England and Wales, but this type of guidance is generally only implemented after a local review in Scotland and Northern Ireland so may or may not affect policy there. And 3) Importantly, if you are already taking Xolair, then you will be allowed to continue to do so.

Neil Churchill, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, says: 'We are surprised and disappointed by this decision: Xolair is the only treatment that works for some people with severe asthma and its benefits can be life changing. There is no doubt that without it, more people with asthma will suffer frequent life-threatening asthma attacks and disabling daily symptoms. We find it hard to understand why NICE wants to change its previous recommendation when there is no major new evidence to suggest that it is any less effective than was previously thought. We strongly urge Novartis and NICE to work together to try to find a way to make this vital treatment affordable for the NHS to give to people who really need it.'

We know that many people have seen significant benefits of taking Xolair, including Olympic Team GB swimmer Jo Jackson: 'As someone with severe allergic asthma, I understand how life changing Xolair can be. It allowed me to resurrect my swimming career after I experienced frequent painful asthma attacks during training, causing my ribs to pop out. Thanks to Xolair, I was able to get my asthma under control and compete in London 2012 just a couple of years after my future as a swimmer appeared to be in jeopardy due to my asthma.'

We really want to hear from anyone who is concerned about this news to contact us and share their experiences of taking Xolair. This could be via our Facebook page, by emailing us or by tweeting @AsthmaUK using the hashtag #Xolair. Please get in touch and let us know how Xolair has helped you so we can share your experiences with NICE, to help persuade them that people with severe allergic asthma should continue to benefit from this life-changing treatment.

Source: ©Asthma UK

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