GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has received approval for the use of its new asthma drug, Nucala, in the UK, the latest draft guidance published on Thursday (1 December) by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), has revealed.

Nice had initially not approved the injectable drug on the grounds that GSK's evidence had showed the antibody treatment would be used only in less severe cases and would not be cost effective.

GSK then provided an additional price cut along with further analyses on the use of the drug.

Nucala has been recommended for use in only the most severe cases in the UK's state-run health services. According to Nice, GSK's asthma drug will be given only to the sickest patients who have high levels of white blood cells called eosinophils, too much of which can cause lung inflammation. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is said to have made a similar ruling recently.

The British pharmaceutical company topped the Access to Medicine list in November, marking the fifth time GSK has led the list since the index was launched in 2008.

The Access to Medicine index ranks 20 leading pharmaceutical companies operating in developing countries every two years. While the world's largest pharma companies had improved access to medicine in developing countries over the past two years, they had to do more to make them affordable to the poor, the Access to Medicine Foundation had said.

There were 850 products on the market to combat the 51 worst diseases in developing nations, but only 44 of these were found to be affordable for different population groups residing in these countries, it said.

According to Reuters, Nucala has a list price of £840 ($1,052) per dose. However, the price it will be sold to the National Health Service is confidential.