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NICE says no to arthritis drug

NICE has provisionally decided not to recommended a 'life-transforming' arthritis drug in its draft appraisal.

Adalimumab is used to treat psoriatic arthritis in extreme cases, but the appraisal committee said it was less cost-

effective than etanercept and infliximab.

But GPs have criticised the decision.

Dr Edward Farnan, a former senior house officer in rheumatology and dermatology and a GP in Armagh, Northern Ireland, said he had been unsuccessful in trying to obtain the drug in the past.

He said: 'It's very much a Cinderella specialism and a forgotten disease – it doesn't have political backing and it's outrageous that these people are left to suffer by the powers that be, with what is a crippling illness.

'The drug can be life-transforming. It allows them to go to work and have a family life. It's only severe cases who will need this, where other agents have failed,' he added.

The drug can be administered by the patient but costs £357.50 per 40mg pre-filled syringe. The annual acquisition cost of adalimumab to the NHS is £9,295 per patient, based on 26 injections per year.

Dr Garth Logan, president of the Primary Care Rheumatology Society and a GP in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, said not recommending the drug could actually increase costs.

'Using the treatment is preferable because we don't have enough nursing staff and hospital space to bring people in for infliximab, and treatment they can use at home is preferable,' he said.

NICE has asked for more evidence from the manufacturers before reaching a decision.

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