The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has ruled that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have unsuccessfully tried or cannot take MabThera will have access to RoActemra (tocilizumab) plus methotrexate.

RoActemra has been shown to slow the progression of joint damage and improve physical function when given with methotrexate.

However developers Roche and Chugai are calling for England and Wales to increase access to the drug to include all adults with moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis who do not respond to disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or anti-TNF agents.

Andrew Ostor, consultant rheumatologist and associate lecturer at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, said that it would be ideal to use tocilizumab across the board, as in Scotland and the rest of Europe.

“But as the recommendation stands it is a very encouraging step in the right direction,” he added.