NICE rules out RA drug abatacept

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 last week, NICE said abatacept was as effective as the other cytokine inhibitor rituximab for RA, but cost twice as much.

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

A NICE spokesman said: 'While recognising the severity of RA, it was 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 an aggressive and severe form of RA a chance of controlling the disease.'

Last week NICE issued final guidance on the use of tumour necrosis factor alpha blockers for RA. Adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab are recommended in patients with confirmed active RA who have already been trialled with at least two other DMARDs, including methotrexate.

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