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Published on 13 November 2007

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Group condemns NICE drug decision

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A recommendation to restrict the drugs patients with a rheumatic disease can access via the NHS will condemn them to a “lifetime of pain and disability”, it has been claimed.

The criticism comes after it emerged that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) rejected the use of one drug, infliximab, for treating ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and said patients should not be allowed to switch between two other drugs, which have already been approved.

Jane Skerrett, the director of the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS), said the decision is “devastating news” for people living with the condition.

She said: “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.”

The organisation said that it is considering whether to appeal against NICE’s ruling, which came after a lengthy review of three drugs used to treat the condition: infliximab, adalimumab and etanercept.

Ms Skerrett added: “The three drugs under review from NICE are the only real treatment options for people with severe AS.

“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.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

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