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Rheumatoid arthritis drug tocilizumab backed by report

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A new report by Roche claims that its rheumatoid arthritis drug RoActemra (tocilizumab) is more effective than methotrexate (MTX) alone in achieving clinical remission.

The new study claims to have found that when combined with MTX, RoActemra inhibits joint damage in 83% of patients after two years compared to 66% receiving MTX alone.

The research, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, also found that 65% of patients on the combined treatment regime achieved remission after two years, and 48% after one year.

Tocilizumab, which costs an average £9,300 a year per patient, is being appraised by NICE after being licensed in the UK.

Says Professor John Isaacs, of Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine: “This positive data clearly shows the benefit of using tocilizumab over the long term.”

Rheumatoid arthritis affects 646,000 people in the UK.

Ailsa Bosworth, chief executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society said: “This data is extremely exciting and give enormous hope to people who have failed on other biologic therapies.

“We have to hope that these findings will have some impact on reversing the initial ‘no’ tocilizumab has received from NICE.”

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