Health charities have appealed against a decision to deny some rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers access to potentially life-changing drugs.
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society has criticised a recommendation by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that patients should not be allowed to try a second anti-TNF (tumour necrosis factor alpha inhibitor) if their first attempt at anti-TNF therapy fails.
It says that moving from one therapy to a second or third has been established practice in the UK for years and, if NICE adopts the decision as official policy, it would deny thousands of people access to the drugs they need.
The draft guidance by NICE relates to the drugs adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab.
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society said in July: “NICE is re-writing the rules of RA treatment in this country, ignoring the clinical effectiveness of drugs and ignoring the views of patients and clinicians.
“NICE is systematically taking away clinically effective and proven treatments from patients and giving them just one roll of the dice when it comes to anti-TNF treatment.”
A spokeswoman for NICE said that the draft guidance did allow the use of the drugs for the first therapy.
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