The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended AbbVie’s Rinvoq (upadacitinib) for people with previously treated severe active rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

NICE’s guidance recommends AbbVie’s JAK inhibitor in combination with methotrexate for people with severe active RA, if their disease has responded inadequately to, or they are intelorant to at least two conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

Currently, there are around 400,000 people in the UK living with RA, an autoimmune disease wherein the immune system attacks the lining of the joints. This causes inflammation and symptoms such as pain, fatigue and stiffness.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex auto-immune condition which can affect people in different ways. Therefore, treatment cannot be a one size fits all approach,” said Clare Jacklin, chief executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS).

“It is essential that physicians have an array of medications available to enable them to tailor treatment to an individual patient's disease type and that there is continued investment in research and innovative medicines for RA,” she added.

The publication of NICE’s guidance allows patients to access Rinvoq while the cost-effectiveness agency continues to evaluate the drug for the treatment of moderate active RA as a separate Single Technology Appraisal (STA).

We are pleased that the Committee has recognised the value that Rinvoq can bring to those with severe RA. We remain committed to working with NICE through what it has explained will now be a separate STA for Rinvoq in the treatment of moderate RA,” said Belinda Byrne, medical director at AbbVie UK.

“We are optimistic that we can also reach a positive reimbursement decision for these patients, who have significant burden of disease but limited treatment options currently,” she added.