press release tileUCB welcomes the publication of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) draft final appraisal determination (FAD) for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which provisionally recommends continued access to biologic medicines for patients living with severe forms of the disease.

Whilst we are heartened  to see that NICE is recommending maintaining current levels of access to those with severe RA, it is important to highlight that in comparison with other European countries, patients in the UK have a lower access to the use of biological disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

The 2009 National Audit Office report, Services for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis, estimated  that  the prevalence of patients on biological medicines was approximately 6% in the UK, whereas other European countries such as Spain, France, Netherlands and Sweden it ranged between 8-12%.

Dr Julian Maitland, UCB’s Medical Director of Immunology, said: “I am pleased to see the guidance by NICE will maintain access at the current level. These are highly effective treatments for the management of what can be a seriously debilitating disease. This decision should provide a renewed impetus to ensure that all eligible NHS patients receive them in a timely manner.”

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) also reiterated in a statement on the FAD that it would have liked to have seen NICE increase access to these medicines for more patients. The ABPI commented:  “It is noteworthy that the new guidance remains out of step with many other countries, and is amongst the most restrictive in Europe.”

It should be noted that this is not the final decision and represents the penultimate stage in the ongoing process towards a final guidance, expected in October 2015 and is subject to appeal.