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NICE rethinking drug access limitations

12th June 2007

There is good news for arthritis sufferers as the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has opted to rethink its decision to limit access to anti-TNF medications.

The drugs in question are infliximab, etanercept and adminulab, which inhibit TNF attacks and can enable sufferers to live an active life.

Their cost-effectiveness was questioned by NICE last year, imposing limitations on patient's access to the medicines, prompting a backlash from various groups.

A spokeswoman from NICE said: "While individual appeals were dismissed, the appeal panel decided that the appraisal committee needed to take another look at the use of a second anti-TNF treatment where there had been no response to a first anti-TNF treatment."

Some 400,000 Britons suffer with rheumatoid arthritis, a disease causing the immune system to fail in protecting the body.

Neil Betteridge, chief executive of Arthritis Care, said: "People eligible to receive anti-TNF treatment are, by definition, people with severe rheumatoid arthritis, a disease which, if left untreated, leads to serious disability, often at a young age.

"If not properly treated, those with the most severe form die on average within five years."

He continued: "We're talking about people for whom these drugs are the last hope, for whom there is nothing else beyond palliative care."