The UK is bringing in new treatment for severe asthma sufferers

Some asthma patients in the UK are set to benefit from a new monthly injection to help combat severe symptoms.

New draft guidance from the health watchdog in England recommends that patients should be able to get mepolizumab, also known as Nucala, through the NHS.

The UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said that mepolizumab targets specific white blood cells called eosinophils, which are responsible for symptoms in thousands of asthma patients.

The drug, manufactured by British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was initially turned down by Nice officials.

But after GSK provided further analysis on its use alongside an additional price reduction, Nice gave it the green light for NHS use in England.

The medication, which is administered by injection every four weeks, is recommended for adults with severe eosinophilic asthma if they have had four or more attacks during the last year.

Professor Carole Longson, director of Nice's centre for health technology evaluation, said: "Around 100,000 people in England and Wales have severe asthma that cannot be controlled with their regular medicines.

"Symptoms such as constant breathlessness can make it hard to carry out simple day-to-day activities.

"Asthma attacks can come without any warning so people often live in fear, afraid to go out.

"If they do suffer from an attack, it may lead to hospitalisation and in the worst cases death.

"People with severe asthma have had limited treatment options.

"Many end up taking oral corticosteroids for prolonged periods which can cause further complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure and mood swings.

"Many of these people will soon have access to an extra treatment option to help them take control of their asthma."

Kay Boycott, chief executive of the charity Asthma UK, said: "We are delighted that mepolizumab has finally been recommended for use on the NHS.

"It has the potential to transform the lives of many people with one of the most debilitating forms of asthma.

"Not only should it improve some people's symptoms and reduce the risk of life-threatening asthma attacks, but we also hope it will reduce their reliance on high doses of corticosteroids, which can have unpleasant and harmful side effects in the long term.

"We now need to see mepolizumab made available to those who need it as soon as possible."

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