A drug has been found to combat the effects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in patients resistant to other medical treatments.
The phase III trial of Rituxan looked at patients with moderate-to-severe RA who had shown poor response to one or more tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antagonist therapies.
The randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled study found that those who received two 1000 mg infusions of Rituxan saw at least a 20% improvement in the symptoms of RA, as measured by ACR20, compared to those who received only one course of Rituxan followed by one course of placebo.
Of the 318 patients retreated with a second course of Rituxan, 53.5% achieved an ACR20 response. This figure is compared with 44.6% of the 157 patients who received one course of Rituxan and were retreated with placebo.
Dr Philip Mease, director of rheumatology research at Swedish Medical Center and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washington, said: “These results show that patients who received fixed interval retreatment with Rituxan maintained treatment response, with a safety profile consistent with that previously reported for Rituxan.
“Retreatment tended to reduce the chance of disease recurrence that often occurs after six months. Patients who did not receive retreatment at this time were more likely to experience disease flare.”
The results are to be presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Scientific Meeting in the US.
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