Uveitis drug gets approval in Europe
Adalimumab is the first ‘biologic’ drug licensed to treat some types of non-infectious inflammation in the middle part of the eye
A new treatment for certain types of non-infectious uveitis has been approved by the European Medicines Agency. Non-infectious uveitis can lead to reduced vision or sight loss and is the number 3 cause of preventable blindness worldwide.
Uveitis means ‘inflammation in the uvea’ – the middle part of the eye. It’s a group of inflammatory eye conditions that can be caused either by infection or by a malfunction in the body’s immune system.
Adalimumab is now authorised in the European Union as a treatment for adults, where the typical treatment with steroids fails to control inflammation well enough or where steroid treatment is starting to cause complications. It’s a ‘biologic’ drug, which means it’s an engineered version of a molecule found in the body.
Dr Dolores M Conroy is Fight for Sight’s Director of Research. She said:
“Uveitis is a devastating and under-recognised condition. People can experience painful flares, deteriorating vision and the fear that they may ultimately go blind. It impacts their life at home and work, as undertaking daily tasks such as reading and driving become increasingly difficult.
“For some, current forms of treatment are not appropriate or do not offer relief. The development of new treatments for uveitis was identified as a top priority by the Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership – a consultation with patients and eye health professionals.”
The licence was based on data from the VISUAL-I and VISUAL-II clinical trials, which demonstrated that patients with active and controlled non-infectious intermediate, posterior and panuveitis treated with the drug had a significantly lower risk for uveitic flare or decrease in visual acuity, compared to placebo.
Guidance for England and Wales in 2017
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently reviewing adalimumab as a treatment for non-infectious uveitis. It will publish guidance for the NHS in England and Wales in July 2017. NICE has already recommended the drug as a treatment for other conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis.