New Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment may Provide Additional Relief for Patients

A new study shows that Actemra, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is beneficial in preventing joint structural damage and promoting remission.

A new study shows that Actemra, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is beneficial in preventing joint structural damage and promoting remission.

More patients treated with Actemra (tocilizumab; TCZ), “in combination with methotrexate (MTX), the current standard therapy,” experienced a limited amount of structural damage over the 24-month treatment period than patients “in the control arm,” according to the research release from Roche, the pharmaceutical company that produces TCZ. In addition, patients treated with TCZ were better able to “perform normal daily activities.”

According to the researchers, reducing the structural damage to joints “is a critical measure of effectiveness of an RA treatment.”

Called the LITHE study, this new research was conducted to determine the impact of “TCZ plus MTX in preventing structural joint damage and improving physical function over 2 years.” The research was conducted in 15 countries and included 1196 patients who had moderate or severe RA who did not respond well to MTX. Study participants were either given one 4 mg/kg or 8 mg/kg infusion of TCZ every four weeks in addition to MTX, or MTX only.

The researchers said that the year-long analysis showed, after 52 weeks, “total Genant-modified Sharp Score change from baseline for the ACTEMRA 8mg + MTX, 4mg +MTX, and MTX alone groups were: 0.29, 0.34 and 1.1 respectively. The percentage of patients achieving no progression in the total Genant-modified Sharp Score were 85%, 81% and 67%. The HAQ-DI AUC change from baseline, adjusted mean scores were: -144.1, -128.4 and -58.1 respectively. DAS28 clinical remission (<2.6) was 47%, 30% and 8%.”

According to William M. Burns, CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals Division, these new results showed that, in most patients, MTX “inhibited the progression of structural joint damage which is a major cause of disability and loss of physical function for RA patients. LITHE… demonstrates that MTX offers rheumatoid arthritis patients the chance of achieving a long-lasting remission from the disease.”