The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued guidances on Abbott Laboratories’ Humira and Merck KGaA’s Erbitux as well as a positive appraisal of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Baraclude.

First up, NICE has decided that Abbott’s blockbuster Humira (adalimumab) can be used on the National Health Service as a treatment for adults with plaque psoriasis. Their condition needs to be severe and have not improved with other treatments such as ciclosporin, methotrexate and PUVA (psoralen and long-wave ultraviolet radiation).

Treatment with Humira should be continued beyond 16 weeks only if the psoriasis has clearly improved within this time, NICE added. The latter’s clinical and public health director Peter Littlejohns noted that “psoriasis is an extremely debilitating disorder that is estimated to affect 2% of the population”, adding that this guidance will ensure adults “are able to access a treatment of proven benefit”.

Prof Littlejohns also said the agency believes that Erbitux (cetuximab), sold in Europe by Merck and developed by the USA’s ImClone, “is both clinically and cost effective" as a treatment for head and neck cancer in combination with radiotherapy for specific patient subgroups.

Under the guidelines, Erbitux is recommended in combination with radiotherapy as a possible treatment for people with locally advanced squamous cell cancer of the head and neck if they have a Karnofsky performance-status (a measure of functional impairment) score of 90% or more, or if all forms of platinum-based chemotherapy are considered inappropriate.

Finally, the UK body has given a positive recommendation to B-MS' chronic hepatitis B drug Baraclude (entecavir) and if the NICE appraisal remains unchanged, it will be published as final guidance in August, making funding available on the NHS for the treatment. The NICE guidance does not apply to people with chronic hepatitis B who also have hepatitis C or D or HIV.