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NICE U-turn over arthritis drug

The health watchdog NICE has made a U-turn over tocilizumab, a drug to treat arthritis, which it had previously rejected for not being cost effective.

But following new data from Roche - the drug's manufacturer - the body is now set to recommend its use on the NHS as a "last resort" treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Tocilizumab, marketed as RoActemra, is already offered on the NHS in Scotland.

The drug, which costs £10,000 per patient per year, works by targeting the immune system.

It can help reduce inflammation of the joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis and prevent long-term damage.

The NICE guidance recommends offering tocilizumab to patients with moderate to severe symptoms who have failed to respond to other treatments.

At this stage, the decision is still subject to appeal. Final guidance will be issued at a later date.

Neil Betteridge, Chief Executive of the charity Arthritis Care, described the move as an "important breakthrough".

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National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence