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Drug hope for arthritis sufferers

Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers in England and Wales will gain access to an extra drug through the NHS to combat the condition.

Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia) will be provided free by manufacturer (UCB Pharma) for the first 12 weeks for patients starting treatment through a patient access scheme agreed with the Department of Health. The therapy is currently 10 pre-loaded syringes of 200 mg each.

The NHS will now be given three months to start implementing the new guidance, which has been published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Certolizumab pegol is a type of treatment known as a TNF (tumour necrosis factor) inhibitor. It is recommended for the same use as the other TNF inhibitors - adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab, as outlined in existing NICE technology appraisal guidance 130.

Dr Carole Longson, Director, Health Technology Evaluation Centre, said: "The recommendations have been facilitated by the positive response of the manufacturer (UCB Pharma) in providing more detailed information on the clinical and cost effectiveness of its treatment, and by offering the patient access scheme."

There are around 580,000 sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in England and Wales.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence