A 'Smart Drug' Called Mabthera Cleared For Prescription
Aug 28, 2007 by Peter Jameson
As many as 400,000 people in the U.K. suffer from rheumatoid arthritis but help from the N.H.S. is now on the way for many of them.
They will be given access to a new drug and its campaigners heartily welcomed the decision which they called a triumph.
The 'National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence' (NICE) has approved the so called smart drug 'MabThera' for prescription in England and Wales and the decision comes after a similar drug called 'Orencia' was ruled out.
The final recommendation from NICE means doctors in England and Wales can now prescribe 'MabThera' to N.H.S. patients who have not responded to other therapies.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful and sometimes crippling auto-immune disease which occurs when the immune system attacks the joints, causing swelling and damage to the cartilage and bone and the new drug works by specifically targeting one of the key immune system cells involved in the ailment.
NICE announced that 'MabThera' which is made by Roche and goes under the generic name 'rituximab' will be available to N.H.S. patients who fail to improve after being given the most advanced treatments currently on the market which are anti-TNF drugs.
The drug is already freely available to sufferers in Scotland following a similar decision by the 'Scottish Medicines Consortium'.
A spokesperson for the 'Arthritis Research Campaign' which sponsors research into arthritis, said, "NICE has been in the firing line a lot recently so it should be given credit for approving the use of 'rituximab'. This gives patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis who fail on anti-TNF therapy a lifeline by making available another treatment option".
N.H.S. trusts now have three months to ensure that all qualifying suffers receive 'MabThera'.
In trials 'MabThera' reduced the symptoms by more than 50% for more than a third of patients. However some patients reported higher rates of serious infections as a consequence of using the drug.