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Patients' Wait for Etanercept May Be Over

Kate Traynor

More than 40,000 people who have been on a waiting list to receive the tumor-necrosis-factor inhibitor etanercept were recently offered the opportunity to obtain the drug, according to an announcement this morning from Amgen Inc. and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, which comarket the product under the brand name Enbrel.

The companies stated that notifications of product availability had been sent over the past eight weeks to patients on the etanercept waiting list, better known as the Enbrel Enrollment Program. The announcement apparently marks the first time this year that patients on the waiting list may actually receive the drug.

Amgen and Wyeth attributed the boost in the etanercept supply to "improved efficiencies at the current Enbrel manufacturing facility." The product has been in short supply since January 2001, and the companies have limited the distribution of etanercept to patients already receiving the long-term therapy.

Etanercept is indicated for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, polyarticular-course juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.

According to today's announcement, the Enbrel Enrollment Program will continue to operate. Patients can enroll in the program by telephone at 888-436-2735.