The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has just recommended to the NHS, in England and Wales, that infliximab should be available to some people with severe active Crohn's disease.
The Institute's Clinical Director, Professor Peter Littlejohns, said, "Crohn's is a chronic inflammatory disease mainly affecting the gastrointestinal tract and its cause is unknown.
"We do know, however, that about 50 people a week are diagnosed with Crohn's disease and, whilst it can occur at any age, it most commonly begins in people aged between 15 and 25 years of age."
"It is clear from the independent appraisal that this drug may provide benefit to some severely ill patients. Hence today's guidance is targeted at people who have a severe form of Crohn's disease; that's about 1000 individuals at the present time.
"It is also clear that this drug should only be prescribed by specialists experienced in treating people with Crohn's disease.
Widespread use of infliximab in Crohn's disease is not yet recommended.
|Professor Peter Littlejohns|
"This is not a treatment for all people with Crohn's disease," he added.
"The Committee carefully considered all the evidence supporting this product.
"Amongst other issues, they balanced the known side-effects (such as an increased risk of tuberculosis), the effectiveness of infliximab in treating Crohn's, and the long-term costs, and were clear that we should not recommend widespread use at this time," he concluded.