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NICE perfroms arthritis drug U-turn

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An arthritis drug that was originally deemed too expensive by NICE has now been approved for use on the NHS in England and Wales.

Tocilizumab was rejected for use on the health service by NICE in March because at £10,000 a year, it was considered to be too expensive and not cost effective.

However, the health watchdog has overturned its previous decision on the drug - already available in Scotland - which should be used in patients with moderate to severe symptoms that have not responded to traditional treatments as a “last resort”.

Neil Betteridge, chief executive of the charity Arthritis Care, described the move as an “important breakthrough” for arthritis care on the NHS.

The decision, which came about after new data was obtained from Roche, the drug’s manufacturer, is still subject to an appeal.

Tocilizumab, also known as RoActemra, targets the immune system and can help reduce inflammation of the joints, preventing long-term damage.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive auto-immune disease which currently affects 0.8% of the UK adult population.

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