1 Guidance

1 Guidance

This guidance replaces NICE technology appraisal guidance 126 and 141 issued in August 2007 and April 2008 respectively. It also replaces the remaining recommendations in NICE technology appraisal guidance 36 issued in March 2002.

For details, see 'About this guidance'.

1.1 Rituximab in combination with methotrexate is recommended as an option for the treatment of adults with severe active rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to, or are intolerant of, other disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), including at least one tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor. Treatment with rituximab should be given no more frequently than every 6 months.

1.2 Treatment with rituximab in combination with methotrexate should be continued only if there is an adequate response following initiation of therapy and if an adequate response is maintained following retreatment with a dosing interval of at least 6 months. An adequate response is defined as an improvement in disease activity score (DAS28) of 1.2 points or more.

1.3 Adalimumab, etanercept, infliximab and abatacept, each in combination with methotrexate, are recommended as treatment options only for adults with severe active rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to, or have an intolerance of, other DMARDs, including at least one TNF inhibitor, and who cannot receive rituximab therapy because they have a contraindication to rituximab, or when rituximab is withdrawn because of an adverse event.

1.4 Adalimumab monotherapy and etanercept monotherapy are recommended as treatment options for adults with severe active rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to, or have an intolerance of, other DMARDs, including at least one TNF inhibitor, and who cannot receive rituximab therapy because they have a contraindication to methotrexate, or when methotrexate is withdrawn because of an adverse event.

1.5 Treatment with adalimumab, etanercept, infliximab and abatacept should be continued only if there is an adequate response (as defined in 1.2) 6 months after initiation of therapy. Treatment should be monitored, with assessment of DAS28, at least every 6 months and continued only if an adequate response is maintained.

1.6 When using DAS28, healthcare professionals should take into account any physical, sensory or learning disabilities, communication difficulties, or disease characteristics that could adversely affect patient assessment and make any adjustments they consider appropriate.

1.7 A team experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and working under the supervision of a rheumatologist should initiate, supervise and assess response to treatment with rituximab, adalimumab, etanercept, infliximab or abatacept.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)