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Patients’ group criticises NICE ruling over rheumatic drugs

13 November 2007

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A move to restrict the number of drugs which patients of a rheumatic disease will have access to on the NHS has been condemned by a patients’ group.

The criticism comes as it emerged that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has rejected the use of one drug, infliximab, for treating ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

It has also said that patients should not be allowed to switch between two other drugs, adalimumab and etanercept, which have already been approved to treat the condition.

The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) said the decision will condemn patients to a “lifetime of pain and disability”.

Jane Skerrett, the director of NASS, said: “NICE’s decision is devastating news for people living with severe ankylosing spondylitis.

“Essentially they are limiting people with AS to just one out of three potentially life-changing treatments by refusing to approve one treatment and preventing people from switching to another treatment.

“NICE is condemning people who fail on just one of these advanced therapies to a lifetime of pain and disability.”

AS is a progressive rheumatic disease which mainly affects the spine but can also affect other joints, tendons and ligaments.

Sufferers usually complain of being in pain and fatigued, and the severity of the condition often forces patients to give up work.


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