In England and Wales, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects approximately 400,000 people, or 0.5-1% of the population. Those figures come from the "Final Appraisal Determination: Adalimumab, Etanercept, and Infliximab for the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis," published in November last year, by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which describes itself as "the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health" in the United Kingdom. This document adds, "Of these, approximately 15% have severe disease. RA affects three times as many women as men and has a peak age of onset of 40-70 years."

Do these drugs prove cost-effective? Some countries are trying to find out.

Many scientists and physicians hope that a growing generation of new drugs could reduce the consequences of...

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