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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 July, 2003, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Patients denied arthritis drug
Nottingham City Hospital
The health care trust cannot provide the drugs to all patients
People suffering from severe arthritis have been told they will not have access to vital medication because of funding problems.

From October, new patients at Nottingham's two main hospitals - Nottingham City Hospital and Queen's Medical Centre - will no longer be prescribed the anti-TNF drugs.

Anti-TNF therapy, which costs around 10,000 per patient a year, has been recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence - but not all patients respond to the treatment.

Dr Adrian Jones, a consultant rheumatologist in Nottingham, says the situation breaks the government's own guidelines.

Anti-inflammation

"It is a difficult situation when we have a national body saying we should be using these drugs but at the local level we have a failure to implement it.

"We have had a big advance in drugs which we cannot use," Mr Jones said.

Stephen Madeley
A lot of people have paid into the health service for years and surely they should get the best treatment available
Stephen Madeley
Arthritis sufferer

The drug works by switching off the chemical TNF, or tumour necrosis factor, that causes the inflammation which leads to joint damage and destruction in rheumatoid arthritis.

Broxtowe and Hucknall NHS Primary Care Trust is responsible for the funding for the treatment.

The primary trust said in a statement: "We are working with doctors to ensure that funding is available to provide this treatment for those patients in greatest need."

Stephen Madeley from Swadlincote Derbyshire has been taking the anti-TNF drugs for over a month and says his health has improved considerably.

"A lot of people have paid into the health service for years and surely they should get the best treatment available," he said.

Arthritis Care says the situation indicates a two-tier health service where cash - not patients' health - is the main criteria for treatment.




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