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1.  Clinical disease activity and acute phase reactant levels are discordant among patients with active rheumatoid arthritis: acute phase reactant levels contribute separately to predicting outcome at one year 
Introduction
Clinical trials of new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) typically require subjects to have an elevated acute phase reactant (APR), in addition to tender and swollen joints. However, despite the elevation of individual components of the Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) (tender and swollen joint counts and patient and physician global assessment), some patients with active RA may have normal erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and/or C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and thus fail to meet entry criteria for clinical trials. We assessed the relationship between CDAI and APRs in the Consortium of Rheumatology Researchers of North America (CORRONA) registry by comparing baseline characteristics and one-year clinical outcomes of patients with active RA, grouped by baseline APR levels.
Methods
This was an observational study of 9,135 RA patients who had both ESR and CRP drawn and a visit at which CDAI was >2.8 (not in remission).
Results
Of 9,135 patients with active RA, 58% had neither elevated ESR nor CRP; only 16% had both elevated ESR and CRP and 26% had either ESR or CRP elevated. Among the 4,228 patients who had a one-year follow-up visit, both baseline and one-year follow-up modified Health Assessment Questionnaire (mHAQ) and CDAI scores were lowest for patients with active RA but with neither APR elevated; both mHAQ and CDAI scores increased sequentially with the increase in number of elevated APR levels at baseline. Each individual component of the CDAI followed the same trend, both at baseline and at one-year follow-up. The magnitude of improvement in both CDAI and mHAQ scores at one year was associated positively with the number of APRs elevated at baseline.
Conclusions
In a large United States registry of RA patients, APR levels often do not correlate with disease activity as measured by joint counts and global assessments. These data strongly suggest that it is appropriate to obtain both ESR and CRP from RA patients at the initial visit. Requiring an elevation in APR levels as a criterion for inclusion of RA patients in studies of experimental agents may exclude some patients with active disease.
doi:10.1186/ar4469
PMCID: PMC3978994  PMID: 24485007
2.  Golimumab in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis who have previous experience with tumour necrosis factor inhibitors: results of a long-term extension of the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled GO-AFTER study through week 160 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;71(10):1671-1679.
Objective
The aim of this study was to assess long-term golimumab therapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who discontinued previous tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) inhibitor(s) for any reason.
Methods
Results through week 24 of this multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of active RA (≥4 tender, ≥4 swollen joints) were previously reported. Patients received placebo (Group 1), 50 mg golimumab (Group 2) or 100 mg golimumab (Group 3) subcutaneous injections every 4 weeks. Patients from Groups 1 and 2 with <20% improvement in tender/swollen joints at week 16 early escaped to golimumab 50 mg and 100 mg, respectively. At week 24, Group 1 patients crossed over to golimumab 50 mg, Group 2 continued golimumab 50/100 mg per escape status and Group 3 maintained dosing. Data through week 160 are reported.
Results
459 of the 461 randomised patients were treated; 236/459 (51%) continued treatment through week 160. From week 24 to week 100, ACR20 (≥20% improvement in American College of Rheumatology criteria) response and ≥0.25 unit HAQ (Health Assessment Questionnaire) improvement were sustained in 70–73% and 75–81% of responding patients, respectively. Overall at week 160, 63%, 67% and 57% of patients achieved ACR20 response and 59%, 65% and 64% had HAQ improvement ≥0.25 unit in Groups 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Adjusted for follow-up duration, adverse event incidences (95% CI) per 100 patient-years among patients treated with golimumab 50 mg and 100 mg were 4.70 (2.63 to 7.75) and 8.07 (6.02 to 10.58) for serious infection, 0.95 (0.20 to 2.77) and 2.04 (1.09 to 3.49) for malignancy and 0.00 (0.00 to 0.94) and 0.62 (0.17 to 1.59) for death, respectively.
Conclusion
In patients with active RA who discontinued previous TNF-antagonist treatment, golimumab 50 and 100 mg injections every 4 weeks yielded sustained improvements in signs/symptoms and physical function in ∼57–67% of patients who continued treatment. Golimumab safety was consistent with other anti-TNF agents, although definitive conclusions regarding long-term safety require further monitoring.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-200956
PMCID: PMC3439650  PMID: 22459542
3.  The rise of cholesterol testing: how much is unnecessary 
Background
Laboratory testing has increased dramatically over recent decades, which is a consequence particularly of repeat testing or monitoring, as either a response to treatment or follow-up.
Aim
To assess rates of measurement of lipid levels (total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, triglyceride) for diagnosis and monitoring over the last 20 years.
Design of study
Audit of electronic database.
Setting
A single region in the UK (Oxfordshire).
Method
Specimens from individual patients were matched over time. All tests that were the third or more in a 3-year period were considered to be for monitoring, while the first and second were considered to be for diagnosis. As recent evidence-based recommendations suggest that frequent monitoring of cholesterol may reflect measurement error rather than true changes, between one and three tests in each 3-year period were considered to be ‘necessary’.
Results
Over the 20 years from 1987 there has been a more than 15-fold rise in the overall number of lipid tests requested. After a small decline in the early 1990s, testing rose steadily after publication of several large statin trials, particularly tests requested in primary rather than secondary care. Repeat testing (likely to be for monitoring) rose from 24% of tests (1993–1995) to 61% (2005–2007), with between 42% and 79% of tests in 2005–2007 possibly being unnecessary. Mean cholesterol values declined over time from 1996 onwards.
Conclusion
In the last decade, the number of cholesterol tests performed in Oxfordshire has risen dramatically. Much of this appears to be for monitoring purposes rather than case finding or risk assessment. The majority of cholesterol tests requested may be unnecessary.
doi:10.3399/bjgp11X556245
PMCID: PMC3026174  PMID: 21276328
cholesterol; laboratories, hospital; patient monitoring; testing, lipid; statin
4.  Biosimilars: a regulatory perspective from America 
Biosimilars are protein products that are sufficiently similar to a biopharmaceutical already approved by a regulatory agency. Several biotechnology companies and generic drug manufacturers in Asia and Europe are developing biosimilars of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors and rituximab. A biosimilar etanercept is already being marketed in Colombia and China. In the US, several natural source products and recombinant proteins have been approved as generic drugs under Section 505(b)(2) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. However, because the complexity of large biopharmaceuticals makes it difficult to demonstrate that a biosimilar is structurally identical to an already approved biopharmaceutical, this Act does not apply to biosimilars of large biopharmaceuticals. Section 7002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is referred to as the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, amends Section 351 of the Public Health Service Act to create an abbreviated pathway that permits a biosimilar to be evaluated by comparing it with only a single reference biological product. This paper reviews the processes for approval of biosimilars in the US and the European Union and highlights recent changes in federal regulations governing the approval of biosimilars in the US.
doi:10.1186/ar3310
PMCID: PMC3218870  PMID: 21586106
5.  The 2010 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism Classification Criteria for Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(9):2582-2591.
Objective
The American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism have developed new classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of Phase 2 of the development process was to achieve expert consensus on the clinical and laboratory variables that should contribute to the final criteria set.
Methods
Twenty-four expert RA clinicians (12 from Europe and 12 from North America) participated in Phase 2. A consensus-based decision analysis approach was used to identify factors (and their relative weights) that influence the probability of “developing RA,” complemented by data from the Phase 1 study. Patient case scenarios were used to identify and reach consensus on factors important in determining the probability of RA development. Decision analytic software was used to derive the relative weights for each of the factors and their categories, using choice-based conjoint analysis.
Results
The expert panel agreed that the new classification criteria should be applied to individuals with undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis in whom at least 1 joint is deemed by an expert assessor to be swollen, indicating definite synovitis. In this clinical setting, they identified 4 additional criteria as being important: number of joints involved and site of involvement, serologic abnormality, acute-phase response, and duration of symptoms in the involved joints. These criteria were consistent with those identified in the Phase 1 data-driven approach.
Conclusion
The consensus-based, decision analysis approach used in Phase 2 complemented the Phase 1 efforts. The 4 criteria and their relative weights form the basis of the final criteria set.
doi:10.1002/art.27580
PMCID: PMC3077961  PMID: 20872596
7.  Treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: an international initiative 
doi:10.1007/s12178-011-9082-y
PMCID: PMC3261254  PMID: 21656282
Rheumatoid arthritis; Treatment; Remission; Low disease activity; Treating rheumatoid arthritis to target; Treat to target
8.  Bone Damage in Rheumatoid Arthritis – Mechanistic Insights and Approaches to Prevention 
Synopsis
In rheumatoid arthritis, cells within the inflamed synovium and pannus elaborate a variety of cytokines, including TNFα, IL-1, IL-6 and IL-17, that contribute to inflammation, and may directly impact bone. The RANKL/RANK/OPG pathway plays a critical role in regulating osteoclastogenesis in articular bone erosions in RA. Pro-inflammatory cytokines can modulate this pathway, and may also affect the ability of the osteoblast to repair bone at sites of articular erosion. In this review, we discuss the current understanding of pathogenic mechanisms of bone erosion in RA and examine current therapeutic approaches to prevent this damage.
doi:10.1016/j.rdc.2010.03.003
PMCID: PMC2905601  PMID: 20510240
rheumatoid arthritis; therapy; osteoclasts; osteoblasts; Wnt; cytokines
9.  Golimumab: A novel human anti-TNF-α monoclonal antibody for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis 
Core evidence  2010;4:159-170.
Introduction:
The introduction of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) inhibitors represented a significant advance in the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other chronic inflammatory diseases. Although three TNF-α inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of RA by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicinal Products Evaluation Agency (EMEA), not all patients achieve a satisfactory clinical improvement with these therapeutic agents. The mode of administration of these medications is inconvenient for some patients.
Aims:
Golimumab is a novel anti-TNF-α monoclonal antibody that is in clinical development for the treatment of RA, psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), either as a first-line biologic therapy or an alternative after other TNF-α inhibitors have been discontinued. This review summarizes the development of, and clinical evidence achieved with, golimumab.
Evidence review:
Golimumab has demonstrated significant efficacy in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials when administered subcutaneously once every four weeks. It has been generally well tolerated in clinical trials and demonstrates a safety profile comparable with currently available TNF-α inhibitors.
Outcomes summary:
Golimumab has been confirmed to be an effective treatment for patients with RA, PsA, and AS in phase III clinical trials as evaluated by traditional measures of disease activity, such as signs and symptoms, as well as measures of physical function, patient reported outcomes, and health economic measures. The efficacy and safety profile of golimumab in RA, PsA, and AS appears to be similar to other anti-TNF agents. However, golimumab has the potential advantage of once monthly subcutaneous administration and the possibility of both subcutaneous and intravenous administration.
PMCID: PMC2899784  PMID: 20694072
golimumab; TNF-α inhibitors; rheumatoid arthritis; psoriatic arthritis; ankylosing spondylitis
10.  Measurement of urinary metanephrines to screen for pheochromocytoma in an unselected hospital referral population 
Clinical chemistry  2006;52(11):2060-2064.
Background
Despite the rarity of pheochromocytoma, the dangers of uncontrolled severe hypertension and the very effective surgical treatment of this condition mean that diagnosis is important. Urinary or plasma catecholamines or catecholamine-derivatives are commonly used to screen for pheochromocytomas prior to imaging. This study investigates whether derived measures obtained from 24-hour urinary metanephrine results, patient age and sex can better predict tumors in populations with a low pre-test probability.
Methods
This study takes a pragmatic approach by retrospectively studying the outcomes of an unselected population referred for urinary metanephrine testing (1819 patients) to a tertiary hospital laboratory, and investigates the usefulness of some simple derivative measures for detecting pheochromocytoma. Urinary 24-hour excretion of metanephrine, normetanephrine and 3-methoxytyramine were normalized by dividing by an age- and sex- specific reference range. The ability of products of these normalized measures to predict pheochromocytomas was assessed, compared to a gold standard of biopsy-confirmed tumor.
Results
The normalized product of urinary metanephrine and normetanephrine excretion (nMAD.nNMT) proved to be a highly sensitive (100%) and specific (99.1%) measure yielding a positive predictive value 82%. Receiver-operator characteristic curves were not improved by including the normalized 3-methoxytyramine concentrations in the product. nMAD.nNMT gave higher sensitivity and specificity than either test alone.
Conclusion
We suggest that nMAD.nNMT is a useful measure for identifying pheochromocytoma in a population with a low pre-test probability.
doi:10.1373/clinchem.2006.070805
PMCID: PMC2640466  PMID: 16990424
Pheochromocytoma; urinary metanephrines
13.  Prevalence of comorbidities in rheumatoid arthritis and evaluation of their monitoring: results of an international, cross-sectional study (COMORA) 
Background
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at increased risk of developing comorbid conditions.
Objectives
To evaluate the prevalence of comorbidities and compare their management in RA patients from different countries worldwide.
Methods
Study design: international, cross-sectional. Patients: consecutive RA patients. Data collected: demographics, disease characteristics (activity, severity, treatment), comorbidities (cardiovascular, infections, cancer, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, osteoporosis and psychiatric disorders).
Results
Of 4586 patients recruited in 17 participating countries, 3920 were analysed (age, 56±13 years; disease duration, 10±9 years (mean±SD); female gender, 82%; DAS28 (Disease Activity Score using 28 joints)–erythrocyte sedimentation rate, 3.7±1.6 (mean±SD); Health Assessment Questionnaire, 1.0±0.7 (mean±SD); past or current methotrexate use, 89%; past or current use of biological agents, 39%. The most frequently associated diseases (past or current) were: depression, 15%; asthma, 6.6%; cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke), 6%; solid malignancies (excluding basal cell carcinoma), 4.5%; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 3.5%. High intercountry variability was observed for both the prevalence of comorbidities and the proportion of subjects complying with recommendations for preventing and managing comorbidities. The systematic evaluation of comorbidities in this study detected abnormalities in vital signs, such as elevated blood pressure in 11.2%, and identified conditions that manifest as laboratory test abnormalities, such as hyperglycaemia in 3.3% and hyperlipidaemia in 8.3%.
Conclusions
Among RA patients, there is a high prevalence of comorbidities and their risk factors. In this multinational sample, variability among countries was wide, not only in prevalence but also in compliance with recommendations for preventing and managing these comorbidities. Systematic measurement of vital signs and laboratory testing detects otherwise unrecognised comorbid conditions.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204223
PMCID: PMC3888623  PMID: 24095940
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Cardiovascular Disease; Epidemiology; Lipids; Vaccination

Results 1-13 (13)