NICE approves treatment for rheumatoid arthritis

pharmafile | October 11, 2021 | News story | Sales and Marketing  

NICE has issued a positive final appraisal document recommending upadacitinib, a once-daily oral therapy, for people with previously treated moderate active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This will expand upadacitinib to the estimated 27,000 people living with RA in England, many for whom current treatment may not be effective.

Upadacitinib, with methotrexate, is recommended as an option for treating adults with moderate RA, where their disease has responded inadequately to intensive therapy with two or more conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

There are around 400,000 people in the UK currently living with RA. It is a cruel, progressive autoimme disease in which the immune system attacks the lining of the joints, causing inflammation and symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and stiffness. Achieving remission can reduce the symptoms of RA, and can delay damage to the joints, which can reduce pain and disability – but unfortunately only 26% of UK RA patients achieve remission with existing treatments.

This signifies the need for new treatment options for the number of patients where current treatments are not appropriate nor effective.

Professor Chris Edwards, Consultant Rheumatologist and Honorary Chair of Clinical Rheumatology, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “RA is a progressive disease and if control can’t be achieved, people living with RA can develop increasing pain and loss of function. RA affects people of all ages and treating disease as early as possible is key to maintaining a good quality of life. This recommendation from NICE is welcome news for people with moderately active disease who need treatment options to help them gain control of their RA.”

Clare Jacklin, Chief Executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, added, “There are potentially in the region of 25,000 people living with active RA that, up until recently, have not had accessed to such advanced therapies, including JAK inhibitors. Having more potentially life changing medications to select from to treat people with ‘moderate’ disease will not only improve the lives of the individuals with RA, but it will have an impact on their families, their careers and hence society as a whole.”

Lina Adams

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