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Arthritis drugs use review

12th June 2007

The use of three drugs for rheumatoid arthritis is to be reviewed.

Old Hands

NHS treatment watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), will now review its guidance on Humira, Enbrel and Remicade.

NICE ruled last year that if a patient did not respond to one of these drugs, from the category known as anti-TNF (Tumour Necrosis Factor) medicines, they should not get another.

But charities, manufacturers and the Royal College of Nursing appealed and the drugs will now undergo a further review of their NHS use.

Neil Betteridge, chief executive of the charity Arthritis Care, said: “People eligible to receive anti-TNF treatment are, by definition, people with severe rheumatoid arthritis - a disease which, if left untreated, leads to serious disability, often at a young age.

“If not properly treated, those with the most severe form die on average within five years. It is fantastic that people may now get a second bite of the cherry.

"There are three drugs of this type, and obviously patients want to try the other two if the first does not work for them. The alternative is often a life on incapacity benefit, with no opportunity to live fully and productively.?

Rheumatoid arthritis affected about 400,000 people in the UK and the charity argued that people often benefit from one anti-TNF having failed on another.

NICE said that the appeal panel decided that the appraisal committee needed to take another look at the use of a second anti-TNF treatment where there had been no response to a first anti-TNF treatment.

 

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