Children living in England are to be denied a new asthma drug on the NHS.

The medication, Xolair, is available to children of six and over in Scotland, but Nice, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, plans to stop the drug being prescribed to youngsters under 12 in England.

Professor John Warner of Imperial College London, blasted the proposals and the notion that a child of 12 could get Xolair but not one of 11. He said the 'immunopathology' was identical in each age group and that treatment should be the same, adding: 'It is a great tragedy that Nice has failed to approve Xolair.'

The drug, which is injected at a cost of between £3,300 and £26,000 a year, depending on the dosage, is already being given to some children with severe asthma in England.

Asthma UK's chief medical adviser, Dr Mike Thomas, also criticised the plans, saying: 'Hundreds of children across England with the most severe, allergic asthma will now be denied a pioneering treatment that could free them from crippling daily asthma symptoms, endless trips to hospital and huge amounts of time off school.

'As the Scottish Medicines Consortium has already approved Xolair for use in children aged 6 to 11 in Scotland, patients will once again be faced with a treatment postcode lottery depending on where they live in the United Kingdom.'

What do you think?
Is it time the NHS abolished drug treatment based on postcode lotteries?