NICE rules out abatacept for arthritis patients

The rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug abatacept is too expensive to be prescribed on the NHS, according to NICE.

In a draft single technology appraisal of the drug, released today, NICE said abatacept is as effective as the other cytokine inhibitor rituximab for RA, but costs twice as much.

Rituximab was recently approved for use with methotrexate in RA patients RA who fail to respond to other disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

A NICE spokesperson said: ‘Whilst recognizing the severity of the disease, the committee concluded that based on this evidence, abatacept could not be considered good use of NHS resources.’

Chief executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society Ailsa Bosworth said: ‘To deny patients abatacept is to deny people with a very aggressive and severe form of RA one more chance at controlling the disease and condemn them to a life of pain and disability.’

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

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