Thousands of arthritis sufferers crippled by rheumatoid arthritis were earlier this year given new hope after a powerful drug was made available on the NHS.
The drug tocilizumab, (Brand Name: RoActemra) was approved for patients with the autoimmune disease who are not responding to other treatments. The decision made by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence means that approximately 40,000 sufferers of the condition can now benefit from its’ use.
Professor Paul Emery, Arthritis Research UK Professor of Rheumatology at Leeds University, said: “This recommendation offers the chance of remission to the tens of thousands of patients who do not respond to standard rheumatoid arthritis treatments.”
Prior to this, patients in England and Wales had been denied the £9,000 a year drug because of cost. But in 2010 NICE approved its use as a “last resort” and earlier this year NICE went one step further.
The drug is a laboratory manufactured antibody that blocks a molecule called interleukin 6, associated with many inflammatory processes. Trials showed RoActemra, when given with drug methotrexate, offers clinical remission rates almost six times higher after a year than methotrexate alone.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition which attacks the body’s joints and affects around 646,000 people in the UK.
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