The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is now backing routine NHS commissioning of Teva’s Cinqaero to treat a severe form of asthma after having initially been minded to block the drug’s use.

The cost regulator has issued a Final Appraisal Determination outlining its support for Cinqaero (reslizumab) to treat patients with severe eosinophilic asthma, where inflammation and narrowing of the airways can result in uncontrolled symptoms and serious asthma attacks.

In November NICE said it was minded not to recommend its routine use by the NHS, and asked for further clarification and an updated cost-effectiveness model for its appraisal of the therapy.

Cinqaero is a humanised interleukin-5 (IL-5) antagonist monoclonal antibody approved in Europe in August 2016 as add-on therapy for patients inadequately controlled despite high-dose inhaled corticosteroids plus another maintenance therapy, on the back of data showing statistically significant reductions in the frequency of clinical asthma exacerbations compared to placebo.

Uncontrolled asthma impacts a large number of patients, presenting a major challenge for clinicians and a significant burden on healthcare systems. According to Teva, it is estimated that the market for severe asthma biotech drugs could exceed $7.5 billion a year in the US and Europe alone.

“Despite the availability of current treatment options, many patients with severe eosinophilic asthma still experience uncontrolled symptoms and serious asthma attacks,” said Ian Pavord, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Oxford. “The NICE decision will be welcomed by the clinical community as it provides access to a new treatment option for these patients.”

“Reslizumab has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for some people living with severe asthma, and we are delighted that it has been recommended for use on the NHS,” added Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK.

“New monoclonal antibody treatments, which have shown success in clinical trials are likely to be effective in treating around 30-40 percent of those living with severe asthma, so it is imperative that they are made available.”

However, she also highlighted that there remain many thousands of asthma patients more for whom no effective treatments are available. “More research is needed so that in the future all people with severe asthma will have an effective treatment option.”