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Joy as arthritis drugs reviewed

Campaigners battling for better treatments for arthritis patients are celebrating a victory after the health watchdog agreed to review its NHS guidance on three drugs.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has partially upheld an appeal over the use of the rheumatoid arthritis medicines adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel), and infliximab (Remicade).

Back in November, it ruled patients who do not improve after taking one of the drugs should not get the opportunity to try another one.

But the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), several charities and manufacturers appealed against the decision, and the drugs will now undergo a review on their use in the NHS.

About 400,000 people in the UK have rheumatoid arthritis, of which some 4,000 have the severe form.

The charity Arthritis Care said the original decision meant "pain, disability and poverty" for many sufferers.

Chief executive Neil Betteridge said: "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."


Royal College of Nursing

Arthritis Care

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