Children and young people living with JIA will be able to access more currently licensed biological treatments for the disease, now also including Humira®(adalimumab).1 This expands on existing guidance which limits patients to one option of this class of medicine, offering broader access and more choice for families.1
The new recommendations were issued by National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the body that publishes guidelines on the use of medicines in England and Wales. Biological medicines, which contain active substances made by or derived from a biological source, have been described by NICE as innovative and representing a step change in the treatment of JIA.1,2 They have demonstrated improved outcomes for patients and less side effects associated with the medicine.1,3
NICE also states that if the condition does not improve, people with JIA can try another type of biological treatment.1
"This represents an important development for families living with JIA. It will provide them with more options and broader access to treatments which are critical in reducing joint damage and disease activity," said Ailsa Bosworth, Chief Executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and JIA@NRAS. "Those with JIA suffer from swollen and painful joints impacting on all aspects of their lives, in particular their ability to attend and participate at school. We hope that this guidance will lead to better care and improved outcomes for children and young people living with the condition."
JIA is characterised by onset of persistent arthritis in children under 16 years, where the cause is unknown.1 The condition affects joints which become stiff and painful to move, impacting on children's lives at home and at school.4,5 If left untreated, JIA can lead to permanent joint damage and sometimes life-long disability.1,4
The disease puts an emotional strain on parents and families living with the condition. For example, those caring for a family member with JIA will often have to miss work to look after their sick child and attend regular doctor's appointments with them.5
Around 1,000 children are diagnosed with JIA every year in the UK and about 10,000 children have the condition, which may continue into adulthood.1
Professor Ramanan, Consultant Paediatric Rheumatologist, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children said: "This represents a significant step forward in the management and treatment of JIA. Access to all licensed biologics for JIA provides clinicians with greater options to treat, based on the needs of each child. Correct diagnosis and treatment of JIA is important to enable a child and their family to live a normal life."
Not all patients are suitable for adalimumab and their doctor must be consulted for further information and treatment advice.
The updated NICE guidance can be downloaded here.