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Published on 19 October 2009

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Duel treatment slows joint damage


A study has revealed a new drug launched this month in the UK can slow the progression of joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis patients when used in combination with another treatment.

Professor John Isaacs, from the Institute of Cellular Medicine at Newcastle University, said the new drug, RoActemra (tocilizumab), when used with with methotrexate (MTX), inhibits progression of joint damage in 83% of rheumatoid arthritis patients after two years compared to just 66% of patients treated with a placebo and MTX.

In addition the effect of the drug on disease activity increases over time with 65% of patients achieving remission – a significant goal in treating RA – after two years of treatment, compared to 48% of patients treated for just one year.

Prof Isaacs said: “These positive data clearly show the benefit of using tocilizumab, known as RoActemra, over the long-term.”

The rheumatologist added: “It is an innovative and exciting therapy, and a valuable addition to the treatments available to combat rheumatoid arthritis.”

The figures, presented at the annual American College of Rheumatology meeting, are the results of a major international study including 1,190 patients across 15 countries.

Drug makers Roche and Chugai have recently applied to the EU regulatory authorities for a license extension for RoActemra to include the inhibition of progression of joint damage and improvement of physical function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, as it is not currently licensed for these indications.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Institute of Cellular Medicine

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