Arthritis sufferers 'may work more with new drug'Suffers of arthritis could be able to increase their working hours and therefore their productivity if a drug for treating the condition is made available on the NHS, it has been suggested.

Abatacept, as the drug is known, has been rejected by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) because it is too expensive.

However, a study by the Cochran Collaboration found that patients who were given the drug were twice as likely to achieve a 50 per cent improvement in symptoms.

Commenting on the debate, Lynn Love, director of operations at the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, said that it was important that the medication was made available to patients where other treatments had failed.

She added that this would mean such individuals would be in less pain and would be less likely to require surgery in the future.

“Maybe arthritis sufferers will be able to work more and therefore pay taxes rather than go on benefits,” she stated.

However, Ms Love claimed that NICE did not look at such societal costs when making its decisions, preferring to weigh up NHS costs.

HR departments may wish to ensure they can offer flexible working to employees suffering from arthritis in order to improve absence management.