MabThera is king for rare autoimmune condition

Roche’s MabThera gains NICE approval as a treatment for a rare form of vasculitis, becoming the first drug specifically recommended for the rare autoimmune condition.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has given a final recommendation for Roche’s MabThera (rituximab) to be used a treatment for anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis, becoming the first drug specifically recommended by NICE for treating the rare condition.

While Roche initially faced a rejection from the regulator eight months ago, NICE have now deemed MabThera appropriate for the treatment of the rare autoimmune condition, which is diagnosed in around 1,200 people across England and Wales each year.

The recommendation faces restrictions with MabThera only to be used in certain circumstances, but the regulator praised the drug as an improvement on the current immunosuppressant therapies that have been used for the past four decades.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the Health Technology Evaluation Centre at NICE, said: “The Committee heard that rituximab is the first effective treatment since the introduction of cyclophosphamide in the late 1970s.”

“In addition, they heard from clinical specialists and patient experts that induction treatment with rituximab was four weeks instead of up to six months with cyclophosphamide, which is more convenient for patients,” she added.

The recent recommendation allows Roche to expand MabThera’s scope beyond its current NICE approvals for treating two types of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.