New treatment option for psoriatic arthritis recommended for routine NHS use
Published on 19 January 2017
An effective new oral therapy for psoriatic arthritis has been approved for routine NHS use by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The regulatory body has issued a final appraisal determination recommending the use of apremilast, also known by its brand name Otezla, for the treatment of adult patients with active psoriatic arthritis, and may represent an important new breakthrough for the treatment of the disease.
A first-in-class therapy
Otezla is designed for use by patients who have had an inadequate response to or are unable to tolerate treatment with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, and is recommended with a patient access scheme for adults who have peripheral arthritis with three or more tender joints and three or more swollen joints.
It works by reducing the activity of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 4, which drives the inflammation associated with psoriatic arthritis, and reduces the signs and symptoms of the condition in this way. Otezla is the first oral psoriatic arthritis treatment of its kind to be approved for NHS use.
This reverses NICE's previous decision to turn down this therapy in September 2015, and brings England and Wales in line with Scotland, where Otezla was recommended by the Scottish Medicines Consortium in June 2015.
The benefits of the new treatment
In clinical trials, this drug has demonstrated proven and durable efficacy in psoriatic arthritis, helping to relieve signs of swollen and tender joints, as well as pre-existing dactylitis and enthesitis, with significant improvements in physical function.
More than 296,000 people in the UK are affected by psoriatic arthritis at present, with many experiencing difficulties in carrying out everyday physical activities as a result. This approval therefore represents an important new advance for people with this debilitating condition.
Dr Helena Marzo-Ortega, honorary senior lecturer and consultant at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease that causes significant strain on NHS resources. Addressing the symptoms of both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, the availability of Otezla on the NHS marks a major milestone in the management of psoriatic arthritis."
Arthritis Research UK's view
Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said: "We want better access to treatments for people with all forms of arthritis, as well as a wide range of treatment options to manage their condition better. Otezla is a welcome option that could help thousands of people affected by painful psoriatic arthritis.
"We are currently funding projects investigating the link between the bacteria on our skin and in our gut and the risk of developing psoriatic arthritis. These research projects will help us better understand the disease and ultimately offer people better targeted treatments."