It looks like children with growth deficiencies will soon be able to get easy access to Pfizer’s human growth hormone Genotropin on the National Health Service after it won the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s favour.

The cost watchdog has published an appraisal consultation document in which it recommends the use of the drug to treat children with short stature due to: growth hormone deficiency; Turner syndrome; Prader–Willi syndrome; chronic renal insufficiency; being born small for gestational age; and short stature homeobox-containing gene (SHOX) deficiency.

While the Institute has ruled that the drug is indeed a cost-effective use of NHS resources, as there are seven preparations of somatropin available in the UK - including Eli Lilly’s Humatrope, Novo Nordisk’s Norditropin and Merck Serono’s Saizen - it has stressed that doctors must consider all the therapies and the likelihood of treatment adherence and then ultimately select the most suitable one with the lowest acquisition cost.

The cost of treatment varies depending on the child’s weight or body surface area and the different therapies available all come with different price tags, Genotropin and Saizen being the most expensive at £23.18 per mg and Humatrope the cheapest at £18.00 per mg.

NICE has also stipulated that therapy with Genotropin should be discontinued: if there growth velocity is less than 50% from baseline in the first year of treatment; final height is approached and growth velocity is less than 2cm total growth in one year; there are “insurmountable problems” with adherence; or final height is attained.

Pfizer is unsurprisingly pleased with the news. Dr John Porter, Paediatric Endocrinologist and Speciality Medical Team Lead at Pfizer Ltd, said: “We welcome NICE’s preliminary recommendation, which will ensure that patients and their families will continue to benefit from this important and effective treatment option. Since the introduction of Genotropin in 1986, this medicine has helped transform the lives of many children with endocrine disorders in the UK”.