National Health Service use of Novartis' Cosentyx to treat active ankylosing spondylitis is being endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The Institute has published a positive Final Appraisal Determination recommending Cosentyx (secukinumab) as an option for adult patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional therapy.

AS is a long-term condition affecting around 200,000 people in the UK, a kind of arthritis in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed. Up to 70 percent of patients who go on to develop severe AS will form spinal fusions, a condition in which the bones grow together, over 10 to 15 years, which significantly reduces mobility.

Secukinumab is a human monoclonal antibody that works by blocking the activity of interleukin 17A, which is involved in ankylosing spondylitis, reducing the activity of the immune system and the symptoms of the disease.

The list price of secukinumab is £9,140.85 per person in the first year and £7,312.68 in subsequent years, and the drug is only being backed for NHS use if the company provides it at the discount agreed in the patient access scheme.

Novartis has welcomed the decision, which Hugh O'Dowd, Country President and General Manager, UK and Ireland, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, says "acknowledges the significance of clinical data supporting this innovative treatment and highlights the potential of Cosentyx as the new standard of care for AS".

The new final guidance follows earlier NICE advice for Cosentyx for restricted use within the NHS in England and Wales to treat adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, and recommendations from the Scottish Medicines Consortium for restricted use to treat adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis and adult patients with active AS who have responded inadequately to conventional therapy.