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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006 Nov;45(11):1376-9. Epub 2006 Oct 10.

UK consultant rheumatologists' access to biological agents and views on the BSR Biologics Register.

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  • 1Musculoskeletal Unit, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE7 7DN, UK.



The British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register (BSRBR) is a prospective cohort study to determine the efficacy and toxicity of biological agents in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients compared with RA controls. Entry of patients to the register is a condition of use of anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy in the UK, but little is known of clinicians' views of its usefulness. Data from the register suggest uneven provision of anti-TNF-alpha therapy.


A questionnaire was sent on behalf of the BSRBR to all UK consultant rheumatologists concerning provision and use of anti-TNF-alpha therapy and their experience of working with the BSRBR.


Response rate was 49.5% representing 252 consultants. Fourty-six per cent had some limitation of access to anti-TNF-alpha drugs, usually a financial cap (70%), even for RA patients meeting National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) criteria. Sixty-seven per cent could prescribe for ankylosing spondylitis (AS) or psoriatic arthritis (PsA) in some circumstances but only 25 and 35%, respectively, could prescribe according to BSR guidance. More than 50% found the workload involved in submitting data to the registry at least difficult, but most had favourable impressions of the BSRBR and thought similar registries desirable or essential for PsA, AS and rituximab.


Access to anti-TNF therapy for patients with inflammatory arthritis is variable in the UK, even for RA where it is NICE-approved. Access is more limited for conditions where NICE has not yet issued guidance. The BSRBR generates a significant workload for rheumatology staff but is generally well-regarded.

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