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August 22nd, 2007

Thousands of arthritis patients with crippling disabilities were given new hope yesterday after winning the right to free treatment with a “smart” drug.

The surprise decision to approve NHS funding of the antibody drug MabThera was hailed as “a triumph” by one leading charity.

The news comes less than three weeks after a health service watchdog issued draft guidance rejecting free prescriptions of another cutting-edge drug, Orencia, for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Yesterday the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) ruled that MabThera was a cost-effective treatment for patients severely affected by the disease.

The final recommendation from Nice means doctors in England and Wales can now prescribe the drug to NHS patients who have not responded to other therapies. Click here for full report.

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