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Wyeth looks for European boost from Enbrel NICE guidance

Published on 27/07/06 at 01:59pm

Wyeth's Enbrel has received a dual recommendation from NICE - guidance the pharma company hopes will influence healthcare decisions elsewhere in Europe.

Enbrel was recommended as a last line of treatment for severe plaque psoriasis and in severe active psoriatic arthritis, when older generation treatments are ineffective.

Stevo Knezevic, chief medical officer of Wyeth Europa, said: "This endorsement of biological therapies is excellent news for psoriatic patients across Europe and the healthcare professionals who care for them.

"It is now vital that healthcare providers take note of the positive NICE decision, the opinion of dermatologists and the needs of psoriatic patients, and make funding for these therapies available as quickly as possible."

The skin disease psoriasis affects about 2% of the population and currently has no cure. An estimated 5-7% of sufferers also have psoriatic arthritis, which is an inflammatory arthritis.

Enbrel is the leading treatment in the TNF-blocker class of drugs and one of the newer biologic treatments on the market.

The TNF-blocker market is  highly competitive, with two other treatments chasing Enbrel (etanercept) for sales  Schering-Plough's Remicade (infliximab) and Abbott's Humira (adalimumab).

Enbrel was the first TNF-blocker to market and led the pack last year with global sales of $3.6 billion, followed by Remicade with $2.8 billion and Humira with $1.4 billion.

NICE recommended Enbrel to treat severe plaque psoriasis when other treatments, such as the generic drug methotrexate, have failed or patients are intolerant to them. If Enbrel is ineffective, or patients are intolerant to it, NICE recommended they should be offered Serono's humanised therapeutic antibody Raptiva (efalizumab).

In severe active psoriatic arthritis, Enbrel received a recommendation for patients with three or more tender joints and three or more swollen joints and for whom at least two of the older disease-modifying, anti-rheumatic drugs have already been prescribed. In this case, if Enbrel does not bring about improvement or patients are intolerant to it, they should be offered Schering-Plough's Remicade under the new guidance.

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