NICE decision on AF drug challenged by heart charity

NICE's decision not to approve dronedarone, a novel anti-arrhythmic drug, for use in the NHS in England has been challenged by the Atrial Fibrillation Association.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) of electrical activity in the heart in a case of auricular fibrillation (Photograph: SPL)
Electrocardiogram (ECG) of electrical activity in the heart in a case of auricular fibrillation (Photograph: SPL)

The drug has been approved by the European Medicines Agency, but provisional guidelines published by NICE last month recommended that dronedarone should not be made available on the NHS. 

The Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA) has now called on people to appeal against this decision by 28 January, the deadline for responding to NICE's draft guidelines.

‘We are urging MPs, patients with AF and professionals involved in heart-rhythm care to speak out and reply to this appraisal document by NICE,' said Trudie Lobban, founder and chief executive of AFA.

‘If dronedarone is not approved, it will have a detrimental effect on the lives of thousands of people who could be helped to live a safer, healthier and active life.'

Dronedarone has been shown in large scale trials to significantly decrease the incidence of AF in patients suffering from the condition. Unlike older anti-arrhythmic drugs it has far fewer side effects, which makes it popular with patients.

The Atrial Fibrillation Association estimates that 40,000 patients could benefit from the drug. The charity said that hundreds of healthcare professionals and MPs have written to NICE to voice their concerns.

NICE will review its decision in February in consultation with patients and healthcare professionals.

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