NICE refuses rheumatoid arthritis treatment

NICE has upheld its decision to not recommend abatacept for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

This is despite a meeting earlier this month with representatives from the Royal College of Physicians, British Society for Rheumatology and Royal College of Nursing who contested NICE's view that the drug was too expensive.

When the draft technology appraisal was published in November, NICE pointed out that abatacept cost twice as much as another cytokine inhibitor rituximab, but had similar effectiveness in RA.

Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said that even after the review panel took into account disease severity and the value placed on the drug by patients and clinicians ‘but found that abatacept does not represent a good use of NHS resources'.

‘They have, however, recommended that patients currently receiving the drug for RA should have the option to continue therapy until they and their clinicians consider it appropriate to stop,' he added.

In separate NICE guidance on RA, published in October, adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab were recommended. Rituximab was also recommended as a treatment option for patients with severe active RA.

NICE has also published final guidance on infliximab in ulcerative colitis, ruling that the drug is not cost effective in moderate to severe disease.

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