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NICE approves RoActemra and MTX for RA

NICE has approved RoActemra plus methotrexate for use in rheumatoid patients who have failed or cannot take MabThera

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has approved RoActemra (tocilizumab) plus methotrexate (MTX) for use in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who have failed or cannot take MabThera (rituximab).

In clinical trials, RoActemra given with MTX achieved clinical remission rates almost six times higher than MTX alone and halted joint damage in 85 per cent of people compared to just 67 per cent treated with MTX alone, at 52 weeks.

The decision fails to give healthcare practitioners full choice to use the therapy earlier, as per its licence and usage in most of Europe and Scotland. Roche and Chugai are seeking to make RoActemra more widely available and are working within the NICE process to facilitate this.

Professor of rheumatolgy Paul Emery at the University of Leeds said: "This decision is very good news for the many patients who will benefit now and in the future. Although we would love the freedom to use this drug in all its licensed indications, as in Scotland the turnaround from NICE is encouraging as it shows that RA is being recognised as a serious but treatable condition."

There are around 646,000 people in the UK with RA – an incurable, painful and debilitating auto-immune disease where the body attacks itself, most noticeably in the joints. One third of those adults affected stop working within two years of onset and around half are unable to work through disability within 10 years.

31st August 2010

From: Healthcare

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