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Patients with arthritis are celebrating a successful appeal against a National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) decision that restricted their access to pain relieving drugs.
Previous guidance has restricted patients to just one type of TNF-a inhibitor medication, with no option of an alternative if the first failed to provide relief.
Groups including the National Society for Rheumatoid Arthritis appealed against the move, which they said would leave 40,000 sufferers with high pain levels and long-term disability.
It also maintained that switching from one TNF-a inhibitor to a second and possibly a third was a well-established practice among doctors in the UK.
A spokesman for NICE said: “The decision of the appeal panel reinforces the fact that the appeal process is robust, independent and focused on ensuring that NICE produces guidance in a fair and reasonable way.
“This appraisal has now concluded. The Institute is seeking advice from the Department of Health as to whether a new formal referral from ministers is required, and will make the decision available once it is known.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We will now consider NICE’s request to advise on whether a new formal referral is required.”
Copyright Press Association 2008