The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) had decided that NHS (National Health Service) arthritis patients in England and Wales can only try one anti-TNF drug. Yes, you read that correctly. Doctors will only get one shot at prescribing the “right” anti-TNF therapy for each of their patients. No pressure there.
Say that one drug is Remicade. If Remicade does not work for a patient or loses its effectiveness over time, people in the UK will not be allowed to try a second TNF inhibitor therapy, such as Enbrel or Humira. Knowing how Enbrel and other anti-TNFs have been life-changing drugs for me and my arthritis friends, this information in this news article really disturbs me.
NICE said that giving patients two, or even three, anti-TNFs is not cost-effective and that doctors should offer patients the next drug in line – rituximab – which costs about £3,000 less per year than the cheapest anti-TNF.
However, around a quarter of patients do not gain any benefit from rituximab.
Charities and patient groups are planning to appeal the ruling before the draft guidance is approved in the fall.
I have a lot of complaints about the U.S. health care system, but this definitely makes me appreciate our system a lot more. What do you think of this ruling?