Old people with docNICE has recommended adalimumab (Humira) for the treatment of active moderate to severe hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) in adult patients with an inadequate response to conventional systemic HS therapy, as per the marketing authorisation for adalimumab. Following this recommendation suitable patients in England and Wales should be able to access adalimumab on the NHS.

Also known as acne inversa, HS is a painful, chronic, systemic, debilitating lifetime skin disease which has no cure. An estimated 977,900 individuals across the UK suffer from the condition. HS causes recurrent, painful abscesses and nodules (boil-like lumps) in specific areas of the body including the underarm and groin which are often very uncomfortable, painful and can lead to scarring.

Adalimumab, the first treatment option licensed for active moderate to severe HS, can help reduce the number of total inflammatory nodules and abscesses that appear by at least 50% as well as reduce skin pain by a third. Side effects were consistent with the already known adalimumab safety profile. 

Dr David Fitzgerald, consultant dermatologist at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust said: “Adalimumab is the only licensed treatment for HS so I’m pleased that NICE has now recommended its use so that patients across England and Wales should be able to receive it. People with HS experience frequent painful lesions, often accompanied by discharge, which can have a devastating effect on quality of life, so a treatment that can reduce the frequency of these episodes and the severity of the pain is a great asset in an area where options are currently very limited.”

Not much is known about HS and it is frequently mistaken for other conditions, including acne or a simple infection. This can lead to a lengthy delay in diagnosis and treatment.

Tara Burton, HS patient and founder of patient advocacy organisation the HS Trust, said: “HS can be a disabling condition, making it difficult or even impossible for people to do the simplest of things. It can detrimentally affect mobility, personal care, physical and emotional well-being. Increasing awareness of HS and its impact on patients will help earlier recognition of the condition, and hopefully enable people living with HS to get their condition under control. New treatments play a part in helping people to manage this condition.

The announcement by NICE comes ahead of HS Awareness Week which is due to take place between 6-12 June 2016 and intends to promote understanding and awareness of HS.