The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published final draft guidance broadening access to several treatment for patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.

The final appraisal document has recommended biologics, including anti-TNF blockers adalimumab and etanercept as well as infliximab for rheumatoid arthritis patients who have not responded to conventional therapies.

Previously, NICE has recommended biologics solely for the treatment of severe rheumatoid arthritis, but has reviewed this guidance as biosimilars have become available – meaning they are now available to the NHS at a lower price.

“These recommendations come after a pragmatic review of existing guidance in response to the availability of biosimilars in the NHS,” said Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE.

“We are pleased that the introduction of biosimilars has lowered overall costs of treatment, allowing our independent committee to recommend biological treatment for more people with rheumatoid arthritis so they can enjoy a better quality of life,” he added.

Biogen, a major provider of biosimilar medication, said that it welcomed the new NICE guidance.

Responding to the FAD, James Porter, head of biosimilars UK and Ireland at Biogen said: “Biosimilars play a crucial role in expanding the treatment options for patients. We are proud to be at the forefront of a transformation in healthcare sustainability broadening access to these therapies.”

“As an innovative company committed to realising the potential health benefits that

biosimilars play in the UK’s healthcare system, Biogen will ensure continued focus on enabling access to these key biosimilars therapies for a broader patient population across the NHS.”