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Arthritis drug development halted


Development of a drug used to treat arthritis has been halted by Roche and Biogen.

The companies made the decision after an independent board said safety risks over the use of ocrelizumab outweighed the benefits to patients.

In a report, the drug was linked to “serious and opportunistic infections”, some of which proved to be fatal.

Both companies said development of the medicine would be suspended until analysis of all the data has been carried out.

Trials into the development of the drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus patients have already been stopped, although tests of the medicine for use in multiple sclerosis treatment is continuing, Roche said.

Ocrelizumab combined with a standard drug was being used to treat arthritis patients, but tests carried out noted a higher percentage of infections.

The second-generation drug works similarly to Roche’s Rituxan treatment, used for treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

However, Rituxan is engineered from mouse and human cells, while ocrelizumab derives from of human cells.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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