NICE has announced that it recommends "the use of abatacept in combination with methotrexate as an option for treating rheumatoid arthritis in adults whose disease has responded inadequately to two conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), including methotrexate.

This recommendation enables the use of abatacept earlier in the treatment pathway providing physicians with greater treatment options and benefitting the patients who suffer from this disabling chronic disease.

NICE currently recommends anti-TNFs as first-line biologic treatment of rheumatoid arthritis following the failure of conventional DMARDs. As a T-cell co-stimulation blocker, abatacept acts differently than the anti-TNFs and has demonstrated robust short term and long-term efficacy and safety data.

During the review process of abatacept IV, the Committee heard from clinical specialists and patient experts who emphasised the importance of having a choice of treatments for people whose disease has not responded adequately to initial treatment with conventional DMARDs.

Dr Andrew Östör, Consultant Rheumatologist, University of Cambridge, said, "It is wonderful news for patients as it means we will have greater treatment options available to us. How rheumatoid arthritis affects a person is individual and what therapy works well for one may be ineffective in another. Choice therefore is critical in order to offer our patients the best treatment."