Rheumatoid Arthritis often starts during the prime of a person's working life, typically between the age of 35 and 45. Women are 3 times more likely to develop the disease than men. It is an incurable, painful and debilitating auto-immune disease where the body attacks itself, most noticeably in the joints.
Methotrexate (MTX) is the current drug prescribed for patients with RA in the UK but if this treatment is not working, patients may also be given a biological drug to help control their disease. However, of the estimated 46,000 RA patients on a biological treatment, 1 in 3 are not taking methotrexate, often because they are intolerant to this treatment. The other most widely prescribed drug is Humira.
However a pioneering study has shown fantastic results, among 326 patients, at five trial centres in the UK, which has shown that almost four times as many RA patients achieve complete disease remission taking RoActemra in comparison to Humira for patients who cannot take Methotrexate.
Professor Cem Gabey talks about the results of RoActemra.
The good news is that at £9,500 per patient per year, RoActemra costs about the same as Humira and The NHS cost-effectiveness watchdog Nice has already approved of RoActemra when combined with methotrexate.
It is believed that these new results may lead to the drug being given to larger numbers of patients on its own.
Written and Presented by Ann Salter