§ Paul Flynn
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effects of(a) surgery and (b) medicinal drugs on the life expectancy of those who have rheumatoid arthritis. 
§ Ms Blears
[holding answer 17 January 2002]: Research in England does not answer this specific question. However, recent research in the United States of America suggests that the average life expectancy of those with rheumatoid arthritis is shortened by about four years for women and eight years for men. Although modern medical and surgical treatment have done a great deal to improve the quality of life for people with rheumatoid arthritis, evidence suggests that there is still room for the development of more effective treatments.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is currently considering the clinical use of etanercept and infliximab as second-line treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in adults. The appraisal is expected to be issued in March 2002.