Hear those cries of protest? They're coming from the U.K., whose National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued guidelines today that would limit patients' access to high-tech arthritis meds. Under the guidelines, each patient could use only one of the anti-TNF drugs--Centocor's Remicade (infliximab), Abbott Laboratories' Humira (adalimumab), and Amgen's Enbrel (etanercept)--and couldn't try another if the first stopped working or didn't help in the first place.
NICE said that giving patients more than one of these meds is not cost-effective, and that if one of them doesn't work, then docs should use Roche's Rituxan--known as Mab Thera in the U.K. and Rituxan in the U.S. Rheumatoid arthritis activists rose to the anti-TNF drugs' defense, saying that a limit of one would amount to "one roll of the dice" and "rationing without rationality."
The guidelines aren't in force yet; a final version is due in September. Activists are hoping that the outcry convinces NICE to change its mind. It worked before; NICE proposed anti-TNF limits in 2006, but recanted after protest.