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Thousands of NHS patients with moderate rheumatoid arthritis can now benefit from three targeted therapies after an announcement from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).


Following a technology appraisal, NICE issued draft guidance approving the drugs etanercept, adalimumab and infliximab for use after conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). The final guidance will be issued mid-July. Rheumatoid arthritis patients with a disease activity score of between 3.2 and 5.1 now have access to these treatments to ease their painful and debilitating symptoms. Previously, only those with severe disease over 5.1 could benefit.


BSR has campaigned for a number of years alongside the charity NRAS to ensure patients benefit from these drugs earlier in the disease pathway. By having more treatment options, clinicians can ensure patients access the most appropriate drugs for their condition at the right time. This announcement comes after the treatment filgotinib was approved for use by NICE in January.


Ali Rivett, Chief Executive of BSR, said: “These therapies are a gamechanger for the treatment of moderate rheumatoid arthritis. We believe every patient deserves access to the most innovative and effective treatments. These drugs help to reduce the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on patients, enabling more people to continue to live their lives to the full.”


Thank you to all members who helped in our campaign, with special acknowledgement to Dr Frank McKenna and Dr James Galloway for all their support.