Abbott has bagged approval for the eighth indication for its blockbuster Humira in the European Union since the TNF blocker's first approval in 2003.

The European Commission  has approved Humira (adalimumab) for the treatment of adults with severe axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) who have no X-ray evidence of structural damage.  This makes it the only approved medication available for the condition.

AxSpA, which includes ankylosing spondylitis, can be a debilitating condition that primarily presents with chronic back pain and stiffness, and can also be accompanied by the presence of arthritis, inflammation in the eye and/or gastrointestinal tract. Non-radiographic axSpA is most often seen in younger people "in their most productive point in life", Abbott said, and can go unrecognised for years.

John Leonard, head of pharmaceuticals R&D, said this approval "marks another advancement in Abbott's commitment to the continued innovation of Humira in providing treatment for a broad scope of difficult-to-treat immune-mediated diseases".