Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers can soon look forward to receiving further treatment following a NICE approval of a drug designed to tackle the disease.
The watchdog NICE has given RoActemra (tocilizumab) the green light to be used by patients who are in the early stages of the crippling condition. Currently it is estimated that 1,200 people who are more severely affected by arthritis are using RoActemra.
However NICE’s authorisation of the drug mean that it could help to improve the health of thousands of sufferers in England and Wales.
RoActemra will become available as a choice for patients once tests have confirmed that it can ineffectively react to disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
According to research from Roche, the drug can be extremely effective when used alongside DMARD methotrexate. Data showed that it can result in faster clinical remission rates, by up to six times, than using methotrexate by itself.
The company said that it is also possible to use RoActemra on its own if methotrexate treatment is unavailable or not suitable for the patient.
John Isaacs, professor of clinical rheumatology at the Institute of Cellular Medicine at Newcastle University, said: “Rheumatoid arthritis is an unrelenting disease and it is vital that patients have options available to them when they are no longer responding to, or can no longer tolerate, their current treatment.”
NICE has also certified the use of TNF inhibitors, which are currently available on the market, but work in a contrasting way to RoActemra.