High cost drugs for rheumatic disease

Patients with established rheumatic disease, who are currently under the care of the department, who are taking high cost drugs, such as biologic agents, prescribed by the Trust consultant rheumatologists.

How do I know if I am on a biologic/high cost drug?

Your rheumatologist will have discussed this with you before starting the drug.

You would usually have to have failed at least two conventional agents (such as Methotrexate), and often you would be on two or more drugs already. You will have had very active disease despite your medication, as measured by disease activity scores agreed nationally by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence). Your rheumatologist would have had to apply for funding for the high cost drug, and you will have been screened for HIV, Hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis as part of this process. You will have had an initial three month prescription, and the drug will only be continued if you respond according to nationally agreed criteria.

How do I avoid delays to my prescription?

Ensure that you have:

  1. Blood tests in the last three months (FBC, U&E, LFT, CRP+/-ESR). If you or your GP live outside Surrey, your bloods may not be available to the department, and you may need to send a copy to us.
  2. A review in the department within the last six months which should have included a disease activity score, which would trigger a funding update.
  3. No funding issues - if you have moved or changed your GP, this may change the body that funds your drug. You need to let us know ASAP if this is the case as applications for funding can take some time.
  4. You are a current patient of the Rheumatology department. If you have not been seen in the department for over a year/have an appointment scheduled, hospital policy is that you are discharged from our care. If this happens you will need to be re-referred by your GP. Please ensure you have an appointment booked, if you cancel or do not attend an appointment it is your responsibility to book a further appointment. 

I’ve sent a request, will I hear anything back to confirm it is being processed?

You will not be contacted unless there is a problem. You should expect to receive a call from the Homecare provider to deliver your medication.