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Watchdog approves arthritis drug


People fighting the pain and discomfort of arthritis have another treatment they can add to their arsenal after a new medicine was backed by the US drugs watchdog.

Simponi, from Johnson & Johnson, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to tackle rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. All three forms of arthritis are chronic disorders in which the immune system attacks joints, causing stiffness, pain and restricted motion.

The injectable medication is a follow-up to the multi-billion-dollar drug Remicade, which had combined global sales of more than £3.4 billion last year. It is marketed in the US by J&J and in Europe and other countries by Schering-Plough.

The drug is a tumour necrosis factor blocker. It works by targeting and neutralising a protein that, when overproduced, causes inflammation and damage to bones, cartilage and other tissue.

US-based pharmaceutical giant Merck is buying up Schering-Plough for £28 billion, partly due to the moneymaking potential of the drugs Simponi and Remicade.

Simponi, known generically as golimumab, was discovered and developed by J&J’s Centocor Ortho Biotech unit.

Copyright Press Association 2009

US Food and Drug Administration

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