A new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis could be made available on the NHS in the foreseeable future.
Regulators ruled Eli Lilly’s Olumiant to be cost-effective meaning that some patients could benefit from the treatment in the coming months.
Draft guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommend Olumiant (baricitinib) as an option for treating severe active rheumatoid arthritis in adults whose disease has responded inadequately to intensive therapy with conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
With the price of the drugs being considered acceptable, it seems that it could become part of the NHS armoury in the near future.
The medicine can also be administered to those adults who have had an inadequate response to other DMARDs, or those who are unable to take them for medical reasons.
Olumiant had already been approved as the first JAK inhibitor to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Clinical trials had indicated that the signs and symptoms of the disease in a multitude of patients displayed significant improvement when treated by the drug, and particularly when compared to standard of care therapies.
Data from the Phase III RA-BEAM trial indicated that baricitinib – the chemical name for the medicine – outperformed both a placebo and AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab).
The latter is currently in the world’s best selling drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis, but it seems that this situation could change rapidly following the results of this study.
After 24 weeks, the drug was also superior to the placebo in preventing progressive radiographic structural joint damage, and its treatment benefits were maintained through 52 weeks of therapy.
And in the RA-BEGIN trial, the drug also outperformed methotrexate on the ACR20 measure.
It was also noted that this drug delivers particular effectiveness in treating rheumatoid arthritis patients with inadequate responses to traditional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and biological therapies.
The approval of Olumiant could have wide-ranging consequences for health in Britain, considering the widespread nature of rheumatoid arthritis.
This debilitating condition currently affects nearly 500,000 people in Britain, with 15% of those suffering with rheumatoid arthritis currently coping with the most severe form of the disease.
The average cost of Olumiant per patient per year is estimated at £10,500 based on the list price, but its cost to the NHS will be reduced through a confidential patient access scheme.