European regulators have added to the long list of indications for Pfizer’s Enbrel (etanercept) allowing its use to treat patients with severe non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA).

Nr-axSpA is a subtype of the progressive disease axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA), a chronic lifelong inflammatory disease affecting spine and hip joints.

The term ‘non-radiographic’ describes patients in the early stage of the disease, who experience symptoms - including lower back pain and inflamed tendons and ligaments - before structural changes can be detected by x-ray.

European approval was based on clinical data showing that more patients treated with Enbrel showed significant improvement compared to placebo (32.4% vs. 15.7%) in measures of disease activity and function, and decreases in inflammation after 12 weeks’ therapy. 

Around 95,000 patients are thought to be living with nr-axSpA in the UK, and most of these are under the age of 45 when  symptoms begin. 

Enbrel is a tumour necrosis factor inhibitor approved for a range of chronic immune inflammatory diseases including moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and plaque psoriasis.