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New asthma drug approved on NHS branded a ‘wonder drug’

NICE has issued a Final Appraisal Determination (FAD) recommending dupilumab as an add-on maintenance treatment for severe asthma.

Dupilumab (also known as Dupixent) will be available to patients through injections. These injections are given every few weeks and were shown in clinical trials to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks when combined with standard inhalers.

The criteria for people receiving the treatment and getting access to it is strict and is given to those with type 2 inflammation, as well as having at least four severe asthma attacks in the last year.

The news has been welcomed by both Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership, but they remain unsure about the clarity of the drug and its recommendation to people suffering from asthma. According to the charities, 200,000 people in the UK battle with regular asthma attacks and emergency hospital visits.

Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research & Innovation at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation Partnership, said: “While NICE’s decision to recommend dupilumab is cause for celebration, the sad fact is that four in five people with suspected severe asthma are not being referred to specialists for the treatments that could transform, and even save, their lives.

“Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation is calling for NICE to develop new, clear guidelines so healthcare professionals are confident about when to refer patients with possible severe asthma to get the specialist care they so desperately need.”

Professor Ian Pavord, Professor of Respiratory Medicine, Respiratory Medicine Unit and Oxford Respiratory NIHR BRC, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, added: “Living with severe, uncontrolled asthma results is a constant struggle with shortness of breath and wheezing, making it very hard to lead a normal life. It can be life-threatening when medications are unable to keep asthma under control and severe asthma attacks are too often a reality.”

Asthma is a condition that affects over 5 million people in the UK.