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Arthritis drugs get a second chance

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has announced that it will look again at the case for sequential use of anti-TNF drugs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has announced that it will look again at the case for sequential use of anti-TNF drugs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Previously, NICE ruled that NHS patients should be treated only with one round of the anti-TNF drugs adalimunab, etanercept and infliximab. After this, they should be prescribed rituximab, (which costs around £3,000 per year less than the cheapest anti-TNF), rather than a second or even third course of anti-TNF drugs.

Arthritis charities were unhappy with this decision, as rituximab is said to be ineffective in around 25 per cent of patients, who could therefore suffer high levels of pain or potential disability.

Ailsa Bosworth, chief executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, said: "We are delighted that NICE has listened to patients and clinicians, and agreed to re-look at the evidence for the sequential use of Anti-TNF drugs. It is vital for people living with rheumatoid arthritis to have access to clinically proven drugs that can help to reduce the pain, fatigue and disability associated with this devastating disease."

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, which causes incredible pain and can lead to disability. Symptoms include swelling and damage to cartilage and bone around the joints. Anti-TNF drugs help to reduce the symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. 

24th November 2008

From: Healthcare

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