Patients with severe plaque psoriasis living in England and Wales should now get access to Celgene's Otezla on the NHS like their counterparts in Scotland, after cost regulators confirmed that the drug is a cost-effective use of resources.

Following a rapid review, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has now published a final appraisal determination recommending Otezla (apremilast) as an option for treating the condition in adults who can't take or have failed to respond to other systemic therapies, including ciclosporin, methotrexate and PUVA (psoralen and ultraviolet‐A light), but only if the disease is classed severe.

Psoriasis, an inflammatory disease of the skin, is estimated to affect around 960,000 adults in the UK.

According to Celgene, while there are a number of effective treatment options available to treat the condition, "evidence suggests that a substantial proportion of people with psoriasis recognise the need for new treatments". The firm also notes that it is thought around 350 suicides every year may be attributable to the disease.

In clinical trials, treatment with Otezla, which works by reducing the activity of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase known to play a role in the process of inflammation, showed a reduction in psoriatic skin plaques and other signs and symptoms of the disease, as well as improvements in nail and scalp psoriasis and quality of life.

Otezla offers patients "a much needed new oral treatment option that does not require routine laboratory monitoring," said Chris Griffiths, Professor of Dermatology, University of Manchester. He added that clinical trials of the drug "demonstrated a reduction in severity of psoriasis and associated itching as well as improvement in hard to treat areas, such as the nails and scalp," and that it "has the potential to fill an important gap in the psoriasis treatment pathway."

The drug was approved in Europe in January 2015, but was initially rejected by NICE in June that year for being too expensive.

Around 8,000 patients are likely to be eligible for treatment with Otezla, according to Celgene.