The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that a potentially life-changing treatment be available to people with a severe form of asthma on the NHS in England and Wales.

AstraZeneca’s Fasenra (benralizumab) has been deemed a cost-effective treatment for adults who have severe eosinophilic asthma and are unable to use inhalers.

An estimated 250,000 people in the UK have severe asthma, and of those 55,000 could be eligible for the new treatment option.

The injection is a biological therapy which targets and depletes the immune cells (eosinophils) in the blood which cause the condition.

The dosage is an injection every four weeks for the first three doses, and every eight weeks thereafter. This makes it potentially more convenient than Nucala (mepolizumab), which is also injected, but every four weeks, it was noted.

NICE’s earlier appraisal consultation document (ACD) had concluded that the drug was not cost-effective, but an improved patient access scheme from AZ helped overturn this position.

Meindert Boysen, director of NICE’s Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said of the development: “People with severe eosinophilic asthma that is inadequately controlled often have a severely impaired quality of life – it can hold them back from doing many basic daily tasks, lead to psychological problems including anxiety and depression, and leave them in constant fear of a potentially lethal asthma attack.

"By keeping their asthma under better control, biological treatments have transformed the lives of some of these sufferers.”

The list price of a dose of Fasenra is as much as £1,955, but AstraZeneca must supply it at a confidential discounted price for NHS use.