Campaigners have condemned a decision not to reconsider a drug said to ease an "aggressive" form of arthritis for use on the NHS.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has told the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) it will not reverse its refusal on Orencia (abatacept) for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.
NRAS chief executive Ailsa Bosworth said: "We strongly believe that this is the wrong decision for people living with severe rheumatoid arthritis in the UK, and a potential step backwards in the management of the condition.
"These patients will have already tried other treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and failed on them over time.
"To deny patients abatacept is to deny people with a very aggressive and severe form of rheumatoid arthritis one more chance at controlling the disease, and condemn them to a life of pain and disability.
"Not only is this decision not in the interests of patients, it is not in the interests of health service budgets.
"Palliative care and the burden of ongoing disability will result in significantly greater costs for the NHS than a treatment which can make a significant difference to the quality of life of people with severe rheumatoid arthritis."