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Trio of COVID-19 treatments receive NICE nod

Final draft guidance from NICE ensures people at highest risk will have access to COVID-19 therapies

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE’s) final draft guidance has recommended three COVID-19 treatments as options for adults. They are Pfizer’s Paxlovid, GSK’s Xevudy and Roche’s RoActemra.

The Paxlovid, Xevudy and RoActemra therapies were recommended because there was evidence suggesting they are effective in treating COVID-19. Furthermore, these treatments were found to be cost-effective.

Paxlovid is recommended for adults who do not need supplemental oxygen for COVID-19, Xevudy is suggested for the same group where Paxlovid is contraindicated or unsuitable, while RoActemra is endorsed for treating COVID-19 in adults who are having systemic corticosteroids and need supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

In addition to the news, NICE has revealed that it is developing a new review process to update its recommendations on the clinical and cost-effectiveness aspects of COVID-19 treatments. This will ensure they are made available more quickly to patients if they demonstrate promise against new variants.

Meanwhile, the organisation will also be launching a public consultation on proposals for the rapid update process from 3 April this year. Monitoring for the process is already in place and NICE has the ability to run an update as a pilot scheme during the consultation period.

Helen Knight, director of medicines evaluation at NICE, reflected: “NICE is the first health technology assessment body in the world to look at the clinical and cost-effectiveness of COVID-19 treatments outside of their use during the pandemic.”

She added: “Our committee looked very carefully at all the evidence available and heard from both clinicians and affected individuals before reaching its recommendations. These are difficult decisions that have been made on careful analysis of the evidence and with an understanding that COVID-19 remains a live issue where it is important, we are able to move fast if and when new evidence emerges.”

Access to COVID-19 medicines will continue to be led by the published UK-wide clinical access policies agreed by the UK chief medical officers, under pandemic specific arrangements. Once published, the final guidance will determine routine NHS access for the treatments.

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