A psoriasis treatment has been approved for use by the NHS in England and Wales by National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) as part of a pilot for its new fast-track appraisal scheme. 

The fast-track drug approval scheme has been launched by NICE in a bid to clear the backlog of work that has built up because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The pilot programme will only assess and approve low-risk drugs through the fast-track scheme.  

Drugs that pass the fast appraisal process will have been compared by a subset of the committee to other low-risk drugs and therapies which have already been approved.  

A drug or therapy can then be recommended by the subset without requiring a full committee meeting. The guidance is presented to the full committee who can raise concerns if necessary, ahead of its release. 

The psoriasis treatment, named Bimekizumab, is the first drug to have been approved through the process, with NICE publishing draft guidance on 2 August.  

According to NICE, nearly 18,000 people will be eligible for Bimekizumab, which will be used to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. 

Clinical trials have shown psoriasis treatment Bimekizumab to be the most effective treatment out of its three comparators. It has also been deemed cost-effective in line with what is considered to be an acceptable use of NHS resources. 

Victoria Barrett, head of HTA & market access policy at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: ‘This new approach to ensure some NICE decisions are made in a more efficient way is good news, especially for the patients that stand to benefit.  

‘It is important that NICE and its committees have sufficient capacity to issue timely guidance to the NHS, and this is one way to help, given the success of the pilot exercise.’