NICE has approved the first new class of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in over ten years.
Roche’s RoActemra (tocilizumab) is recommended for treatment of RA where standard treatment with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) has failed.
The approval offers a new therapy option to thousands of patients suffering from this painful and disabling condition.
RoActemra, which can be used alone or with methotrexate (the most commonly used DMARD), is the first licensed Interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor antagonist.
The combination of methotrexate and RoActemra offers a clinical remission rate at one year of 47%, compared with 8% for methotrexate alone.
Until now, the only therapy option when DMARDs failed was anti-tumour necrosis factor inhibitors, which offer a clinical remission rate of 19%.
John Isaacs, Professor of Clinical Rheumatology at the Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, said: “IL-6 receptor inhibition is an innovative and highly effective approach to the treatment of RA and NICE’s decision to recommend RoActemra in this setting provides an important addition to the armoury of treatments needed to combat the condition.
“RA is an unrelenting disease and it is vital that patients have options available to them when they are no longer responding to, or can no longer tolerate, their current treatment.”
“We are delighted with NICE’s decision, as there are so many patients with rheumatoid arthritis in need of tighter disease management,” commented Ailsa Bosworth, Chief Executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society.
“We are very supportive of more aggressive implementation of NICE RA Guidelines and treat to target strategies which, with earlier referral and diagnosis, are more likely to enable patients to reach remission or low disease activity.”