The UK’s 487,000 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers will benefit from a new drug that can halt the crippling disease in 50% of cases.
Currently nothing can be done to reverse the damage caused when the body attacks its own joints, leading to severe disability and pain.
But the antibody drug tocilizumab offers new hope to people by stopping the progress of the auto-immune condition when used together with methotrexate, an existing treatment.
Taking methotrexate alone produced a remission rate of just 8% in a trial led by professor Paul Emery from the University of Leeds. The combination treatment slowed structural damage to joints by 85%.
Prof Emery said: “Results of this pivotal study convincingly demonstrate that tocilizumab can effectively and rapidly diminish the painful and debilitating effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
“These trial findings are significant because it is critical to stop joint damage as quickly as possible to avoid joint deformity and to help people with RA maintain their quality of life.”
Tocilizumab, which is already approved by European regulators, is expected to get its UK marketing license in January. It will be sold under the brand name RoActemra.
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