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Arthritis drug 'should be made universal'

Patients in England and Wales should be able to access a new drug for rheumatoid arthritis if sufferers in Scotland can, a charity has said.

Tocilizumab has been approved for patients north of the border and will be offered free of charge in combination with methotrexate.

However, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the drug licensing body for England and Wales, is not currently offering the treatment to rheumatoid arthritis patients in these areas.

It is thought that the medication, although effective in some people, is too expensive and as a result may not be a suitable option for NHS funds.

Christina Nicolaidou of the Arthritis Care charity said that NICE should review its evidence and make the "right decision".

"[The body] hasn't said a final 'no' - it has asked for more information from the manufacturers of the drug in order to make a final decision about whether it should be made available," she explained.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory form of arthritis and mainly occurs in women. The condition causes patients to experience pain and swelling in their joints and can result in long-term damage to tissues.

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Arthritis drug 'should be made universal'
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