The UK's cost-effectiveness watchdog has said that Johnson & Johnson/Merck & Co's Simponi should not be made available on the National Health Service as a treatment for psoriatic arthritis.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued a consultation draft on the use of Simponi (golimumab), saying the evidence considered suggests it is not as effective as the treatment currently recommended for this condition, Amgen/Pfizer's Enbrel (etancercept). Therefore, NICE's independent appraisal committee says is unable to recommend golimumab for the treatment of active and progressive psoriatic arthritis in adults when the response to previous disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug therapy has been inadequate.

A NICE spokesperson said the committee took into account "the views of people with the condition, those who represent them, and clinical specialists". Whilst recognising the severity of the disease, it concluded that golimumab was expected to be "more costly than estimated in the economic model and less cost-effective than etanercept, and so could not be considered a good use of NHS resources".

NICE currently recommends Abbott Laboratories Humira (adalimumab) and J&J/Merck's Remicade (infliximab) as well as Enbrel for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis in people who have peripheral arthritis. The agency stressed that this is just a draft recommendation and consultation closes on October 22.

Merck sells Simponi and indeed Remicade in Europe but J&J is trying to terminate the groups’marketing agreements as it argues that the former's merger with original partner Schering-Plough constituted a “change of control”. The matter is pending arbitration in the USA.