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Tocilizumab trial yields positive RA results


A new rheumatoid arthritis medicine has been shown to improve significantly the signs and symptoms of the condition among patients who failed to achieve an adequate response to traditional disease-modifying agents.

Data from the TOWARD study, presented at the recent American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston, showed that around one in three patients achieved clinical remission in the tocilizumab (Actemra) group, as assessed using DAS28 <2.61.

These results are consistent with the previously presented results of OPTION, another tocilizumab trial, reinforcing the benefit of tackling RA through the inhibition of the IL-6 pathway.

This treatment advance may become a crucial new option for clinicians in their quest to control RA.

In the TOWARD trial tocilizumab plus DMARD group, 38% of patients achieved a 50% reduction in RA symptoms (ACR50 response) compared with only 9% of patients in the control group.

Some 61% of patients achieved a 20% reduction in RA symptoms (ACR20response) compared with only 25% of patients in the control group.

Professor Paul Emery, Arthritis Research Campaign Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Leeds, UK, said: “We are very encouraged by the findings of this new TOWARD data which suggest that Actemra plus DMARDs demonstrates significant improvement in RA symptoms compared with DMARDs alone.

“These data further establish the efficacy of Actemra and confirm that inhibiting the interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor is a novel method of reducing RA symptoms.”

American College of Rheumatology


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