Patients in Wales are to get access to ViroPharma's hereditary angioedema (HAE) drug Cinryze on the National Health Service following the seal of approval from the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG).

HAE is a rare but life-threatening genetic disorder cause by a deficiency of C1 inhibitor, a human plasma protein that prevents swelling. Patients with the condition can experience attacks of swelling, affecting areas such as the larynx, abdomen, face, extremities and genitourinary tract, which are disabling and potentially fatal.

Following its endorsement by the AWMSG, Cinryze has become the first and only C1 inhibitor approved in the country for the treatment and pre-procedure prevention of angioedema attacks in adults and adolescents with HAE, as well as the routine prevention of attacks in adults and adolescents intolerant to or insufficiently protected by oral prevention treatments or those inadequately managed with repeated acute treatment.

The decision comes on the back of clinical data showing that the drug can provide symptom relief in less than half the time compared to placebo, as well as an average reduction from four attacks per month to two on the prevention side. Data from an open label study for routine prevention also indicate that Cinryze cut the frequency of attacks by 93%, the firm said.

“HAE UK are delighted that Cinryze has now been included in the list of medications available to patients in Wales,” commented Ann Price from HAE UK. “The disease profile in HAE varies from patient to patient, and it is important that the specialists and the patients have access to the full range of routine prevention and acute attack medications in order to set up the most effective HAE management program for each individual patient," she stressed.

The European Commission approved Cinryze for the prevention and treatment of angioedema attacks in adults and adolescents with HAE in June 2011