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Rheumatoid arthritis drug approved

Published on 22 February 2012 12:00 PM

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has given its approval to greater use of a rheumatoid arthritis treatment that could help thousands of people in England and Wales each year.

Up to 24,000 people are expected to benefit from NICE's decision to allow RoActemra (tocilizumab) to be used at an earlier stage of the disease's progression. The move comes after the Department of Health and pharmaceutical giant Roche agreed a discount scheme.

About 1,200 people in the later stages of rheumatoid arthritis currently have access to the drug but, as a result of the NICE guidance, it will now be considered for patients who have not responded to disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Figures released by Roche show that clinical remission rates among patients who use RoActemra as well as DMARD methotrexate are six times higher than those who just use methotrexate.

John Isaacs, professor of clinical rheumatology at the Institute of Cellular Medicine at Newcastle University, said: 'Rheumatoid arthritis is an unrelenting disease and it is vital that patients have options available to them when they are no longer responding to, or can no longer tolerate, their current treatment.'

Copyright Press Association 2012

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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