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RA Patients Suffer In Silence To Stay On Drugs, UK

12 Oct 2007

As edited by

New research highlighting the devastating impact of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on peoples' lives has found that one third of people with RA do not always tell their healthcare professionals the true extent of their symptoms.1

When asked why, 19% of respondents to the ICM poll confessed that they were worried about having their treatment taken away1 and one in four admitted that they were worried that there might not be any other treatment options available.1

Dr Andrew Ostör, Consultant Rheumatologist at Addenbrooke's Hospital Cambridge, said: "These findings make for worrying reading. We know the key to effective disease management is open and honest communication between patients and their clinician and these results suggest this isn't happening, leaving patients in unnecessary pain. There are a variety of treatments available, including recently approved therapies such as rituximab which targets the B-cells in the inflammatory cascade. It should be within the grasp of all people with RA to have their disease effectively managed."

Sue Oliver, a Nurse Consultant in Rheumatology, commented: "We need to make sure we are encouraging patients to talk openly about their symptoms. Ensuring that they not only know what to expect from their current treatments but also what options are available should these not work. Only when we have open and honest communication with patients will we be able to make truly informed treatment decisions, minimising the impact of this debilitating disease on the lives of those affected."

Stakeholders are calling for better communication between healthcare professionals and patients to improve management of this debilitating condition.

The ReAlife Campaign, sponsored by Roche Products Ltd, strives to improve understanding of the day-to-day impact of RA and make sure the real price of the disease is not forgotten.

Article adapted by from original press release.

About the research

The research was conducted amongst 400 people with rheumatoid arthritis. It found that:1

· 61% of people think their RA has had a negative effect on their sex life

· 70% of people aged 25-34 feel that RA has had a negative impact on their relationship with their partner

· 15% agree it was a contributing fact in their divorce/ separation

· 36% agree the disease makes it difficult to embark on new relationships

About RA

There are currently over 487,000 people in England and Wales with RA,2,3 many of whom will only be in their 30s when the disease onsets.4 The disease can cause relentless pain, extreme fatigue, disability and has significant impact on peoples' social and working lives. Between 1999-2000, 9.4 million working days were lost in Great Britain due to this disease, the equivalent of £833 million in lost production.5 RA is an autoimmune disease characterised by inflammation that leads to painful, stiff and swollen joints.

About Roche in the UK

Roche aims to improve people's health and quality of life with innovative products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Part of one of the world's leading healthcare groups, Roche in the UK employs nearly 2,000 people in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Globally Roche is the leader in diagnostics, and a major supplier of medicines for the treatment of cancer, transplantation, virology, bone and rheumatology, obesity and renal anaemia. Find out more at

1. ICM Research. Rheumatoid Arthritis. June 2007

2. Symmons D, Turner G, Webb R et al. The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis in the United Kingdom: new estimates for a new century. Rheumatology 2002; 41: 793 - 800.

3. National Statistics Online, UK Population Estimates, Please click here. Accessed 6/08/2007

4. NetDoctor. Please click here.

5. Department of Works and Pensions. Analytical Services Division In Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC) Arthritis: the big picture 2002 please click here. [Accessed 19/06/06]

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