Rheumatoid arthritis patients will be able to try a powerful new treatment for free after the NHS struck a cost-cutting deal with its manufacturer.
Under the patient access scheme, agreed with NICE, the drugm called Cimzia, will be free to the NHS for the first three months of a patient’s treatment.
If the patient responds favourably the NHS will cover the cost of continuing the drug, which is produced by UCB.
The drug, whose generic name is certolizumab pegol, is the first NICE has recommended for approval for rheumatoid arthritis for more than two years.
Clinical trials showed it eased rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as fatigue, joint stiffness, weight loss and flu-like symptoms for up to two years, but NICE originally queried whether the medication was cost-effective enough to be provided on the NHS.
Professor Peter Taylor from Imperial College London said: “This is an important new treatment option for people with rheumatoid arthritis, and it’s exciting that it is now available on the NHS.”