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NICE jumps gun on psoriasis drug

NICE has pre-empted the marketing authorisation for a new biologic drug for psoriasis and is going ahead with an appraisal of the treatment.

Efalizumab (Raptiva) is thought to be close to receiving a European licence after receiving authorisation from the Swiss government's drugs watchdog.

NICE has had its fingers burnt in the past when appraising unlicensed treatments ­ an appraisal of a cannabinoid drug for multiple sclerosis had to be postponed after problems with marketing authorisation.

NICE expects the new psoriasis treatment will have a Europe-wide licence by May next year when its appraisal committee is due to meet for the first time. The drug's manufacturer applied for marketing authorisation from the European Agency for Evaluation of Medicinal Products last month.

The UK's National Horizon Scanning Centre has highlighted the drug as a potentially significant cost to the NHS.

An analysis of two random-ised controlled trials of subcutaneous injections of efalizumab at doses of 1mg/kg and 2mg/kg found that because of the potentially large patient group, long duration of treatment and the nature of the pharmaceutical agent, the cost could be significant.

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