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Rheumatoid arthritis drug approved by NICE

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Patients with rheumatoid arthritis will have access to a new treatment for free after NICE approved its use on the NHS.

Certolizumab pegol, marketed as Cimzia, is known as a tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor, and is suitable for those already using other inhibitors such as adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 580,000 people in England and Wales, and those starting treatment through a patient access scheme will get the treatment free for 12 weeks.

A deal between the Department of Health and certolizumab pegol manufacturer UCB Pharma states the producer will provide 10 pre-loaded, 200mg syringes of the drug for each patient without charge, and the NHS has three months to begin implementing the guidance.

Dr Carole Longson, director of the Health Technology Evaluation Centre said: “The recommendations have been facilitated by the positive response of the manufacturer (UCB Pharma) in providing more detailed information on the clinical and cost effectiveness of its treatment, and by offering the patient access scheme.”

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