Arthritis charities join PR lobby on NICE monitoring

Arthritis charities this week became the latest third-sector organisations to kick off a PR campaign demanding improvements in the monitoring of the implementation of National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance.

The Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA), an umbrella group for 27 organisations in that field, this week claimed ‘postcode prescribing’ of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis remained ‘rife’.

The claim followed the publication of a survey of 152 rheumatologists on the availability of NICE-approved treatments, and revealed one third of rheumatologists cannot prescribe the most effective NICE-recommended drugs, in half the cases due to lack of cash.

NICE guidance for the drugs, known as anti-TNFalpha agents, was published in March 2002, but ARMA charities this week questioned the value of the guidance, given what they see as inconsistent monitoring.

ARMA has received 264 signatures to an Early Day Motion to cede greater Government priority to arthritis, which was tabled in the House of Commons last November.

Last month four cancer charities called for more Government guidance on the responsibilities of local organisations on the monitoring of NICE guidance (PRWeek, 13 June). The ARMA spokesperson said the arthritis campaign was ‘co-ordinating’ lobbying efforts alongside the cancer charities.

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