Skip to content

First itch treatment for haemodialysis patients recommended for approval by NICE

17 April 2023

For the first time, a treatment specifically licensed to treat pruritus (distressing, itchy skin) has been recommended for approval by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in their draft guidance today. Difelikefalin, which is administered during dialysis,  would be made available for use in people on in-centre haemodialysis in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Impact of pruritus for patients

Pruritus, or itching, can be hugely uncomfortable, disruptive and detrimental to quality of life, affecting people physically, emotionally and socially. We had gathered this from anecdotal evidence and recently commissioned a survey to investigate further.

Alongside clinical experts, kidney patient experts nominated by Kidney Research UK played a central role in the appraisal process, participating in the consultation stage and sharing their experiences at the decision-making committee. They about the impact of pruritus on patients’ sleep, on social situations, on their energy levels and emotional wellbeing. Kidney patients had reported being given wildly varying advice on how to cope with itching, from using certain emollients to changing their diet. This made them feel as though they were not being taken seriously, and ultimately discouraged discussions with healthcare professionals.

“The best analogy I can think of is like the human torch from Fantastic Four…it just felt like my whole body was on fire.” Anonymous kidney patient

An important step forward

The NICE recommendation is an important step forward, says Dr Aisling McMahon, executive director of research and policy at Kidney Research UK:

“We are delighted about this recommendation for patients in England, Wales and Northern Ireland living with CKD-associated pruritus. Severe itching can be an extremely difficult symptom of CKD to live with, so this new treatment, that addresses a significant unmet need, will be welcomed by the kidney community.

“We are keen to see all kidney patients experiencing pruritus safely benefit from this treatment and will work with clinicians to achieve this.”

Our thanks to all the patients whose contributions have been vital in working towards better quality of life for those experiencing pruritus.

Find out more on the guidance published by NICE Overview | Difelikefalin for treating pruritus in people having haemodialysis | Guidance | NICE

Breaking news for patients in Scotland (13/02/2024)

We submitted evidence to the Scottish Medicines Consortium’s consultation on difelikefalin and are very pleased by the decision published today, that the SMC has decided to accept this medicine for use by NHS Scotland. It will be used to treat adults with moderate-to-severe itch (puritis) who are receiving dialysis, and where the best available commonly used treatments have not been effective for them. We welcome this decision.

Research news

Scroll To Top