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Saturday 17th March 2018

NHS approval for arthritis drug

22nd August 2007

Patients in England and Wales who suffer from severe rheumatoid arthritis are to be given access to a new generation of drugs on the NHS to treat their condition.

Old Hands

Regulatory body the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has approved the drug MabThera to be given on prescription. It works by targeting one of the critical immune system cells involved in rheumatoid arthritis.

The ruling by NICE means that GPs can now prescribe MabThera – which is made by Roche and goes under the generic name rituximab - on the NHS for patients who have not responded to other advanced treatments that are available.

In Scotland, rheumatoid arthritis patients already have access to the drug after the Scottish Medicines Consortium approved its use.

Campaigners welcomed the NICE recommendation.

Arthritis Care chief executive Neil Betteridge said: “It's a triumph. The search for effective treatment can be a long, agonising journey, littered with dashed hopes.?

The Arthritis Research Campaign pointed out that NICE had been “in the firing line? for recent rulings but should be given credit for approving the use of rituximab on the NHS.

Health trusts now have three months offer MabThera to all patients who qualify for treatment.
A second drug, Humira, which goes under the generic name adalimumab, has been given the go-ahead as a treatment option for psoriatic arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is said to affect about 400,000 people in the UK and occurs when the immune system attacks the joints and causes swelling to the joints.


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