New arthritis drugs are on their way: Thousands of patients are set to benefit as officials give green light to medications for people with moderate form of the painful condition

  • Rheumatoid arthritis patients will benefit from new drugs approved on the NHS
  • For people with moderate form who didn’t respond well to conventional therapy
  • Drugs are adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab, taken with methotrexate 

Around 25,000 rheumatoid arthritis patients are to benefit from new drugs approved for use on the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence gave the green light to several drugs for people with a moderate form of the disease who have not responded to conventional therapies.

The drugs are adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab, taken with methotrexate for use in the NHS.

Dr Natalie Carter, of Versus Arthritis, said the drugs ‘will enable thousands more people to benefit from these treatments’. Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints and around 400,000 people are affected.

The new treatments have only been recommended for use when intensive therapy with two or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs have not controlled the illness.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence gave the green light to several drugs for people with a moderate form of rheumatoid arthritis who have not responded to conventional therapies (stock image)

During the Nice review, one drug – abatacept with methotrexate – was not considered a cost-effective treatment for moderate disease.

Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at Nice, said: ‘I am delighted that we are able to recommend additional treatment options for people with moderate rheumatoid arthritis whose disease hasn’t responded to conventional treatments.

‘These recommendations come after a pragmatic review of existing guidance in response to the availability of biosimilars in the NHS.

‘We are pleased that the introduction of biosimilars has lowered overall costs of treatment, allowing our independent committee to recommend biological treatment for more people with rheumatoid arthritis so they can enjoy a better quality of life.’

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