New arthritis drug rejected over cost

Thousands of people with an aggressive form of arthritis will be condemned to a life of misery after the health watchdog rejected an appeal to approve a new drug for NHS patients, a charity has said.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has decided that abatacept (Orencia) is not cost effective.
The drug is used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.

Around 400,000 people in Britain have rheumatoid arthritis. About 10 per cent have a severe form.They can be offered a class of drugs called anti-TNFs but around 30 per cent of patients derive no benefit.

The drug's manufacturer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, submitted evidence to Nice showing that around 3,585 patients in Britain would be eligible for treatment with abatacept.
Ailsa Bosworth, the chief executive of NRAS, said: "We are bitterly disappointed that Nice has ignored our appeals to approve the use of abatacept for people with severe rheumatoid arthritis, a therapy that could really make a difference to their lives.

"They have condemned people with severe rheumatoid arthritis, who have already failed on other therapies, to a lifetime of misery."

Patients traditionally receive 13 doses of the drug per year.
Figures from Bristol-Myers Squibb show that an average dose would cost the NHS £718 or £9,334 a year. The company has said this is similar to the cost of anti-TNF drugs.
Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of Nice, said an independent appraisal committee had found that abatacept "does not represent a good use of NHS resources".
He added that the committee recommended that patients receiving the drug should have the option to continue therapy until they and their clinicians consider it appropriate to stop.

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