The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved Pfizer's oral drug Xeljanz (tofacitinib) for adults with moderate to severe active ulcerative colitis.

Currently available treatment often involves infusions or injections, which can be unpleasant and inconvenient for patients, or sometimes stop working and prove ineffective in managing their condition.

The drug, which will be made available on the NHS in early 2019, is fantastic news for people with the condition for whom biological therapy, such as Remicade (infliximab) or Humira (adalimumab) has failed, or for those who may wish to delay or avoid surgery.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK submitted evidence in May 2018 to eventually get the NICE approval for the treatment, which is part of the class of drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors.

JAKs are enzymes that play a role in activating the body’s immune response, and by blocking this process through tofacitinib may stop the inflammatory process found in ulcerative colitis.