UK patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease can now potentially get access to Takeda UK's Entyvio following the drug's launch in the country.

In May, Entyvio (vedolizumab) became the first and only biologic therapy to be approved in Europe simultaneously for these two inflammatory bowel conditions, specifically in patients who have had an inadequate response with, lost response to, or were intolerant to either conventional therapy or a tumour necrosis factor-alpha antagonist.

The drug is a novel alpha-4 beta-7 integrin antagonist which works by blocking a key inflammatory marker on white blood cells, and has shown statistically significant efficacy across a range of endpoints in clinical trials of patients with UC and CD.

While there is yet to be a 'formal' launch for the drug, a spokesman for Takeda UK has confirmed that Entyvio is available in the country. 

But he did stress that access may be limited until the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) hands down its decision - expected early 2015 - on NHS funding for the drug, as patients will have to apply for treatment through their physician to clinical commissioning groups in the meantime.

Takeda acquired the drug with its $8.8-billion purchase of Millennium Pharmaceuticals in 2008, and a number of analysts believe that it could attain blockbuster status.