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1.  Editorial 
Lupus Science & Medicine  2014;1(1):e000028.
PMCID: PMC4225727  PMID: 25396064
Anticardiolipin Antibodies; Antiphospholipid Antibodies; Antiphospholipid Syndrome
2.  Cost-effectiveness of infliximab versus conventional combination treatment in methotrexate-refractory early rheumatoid arthritis: 2-year results of the register-enriched randomised controlled SWEFOT trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;74(6):1094-1101.
To estimate the incremental cost-effectiveness of infliximab versus conventional combination treatment over 21 months in patients with methotrexate-refractory early rheumatoid arthritis.
In this multicentre, two-arm, parallel, randomised, active-controlled, open-label trial, rheumatoid arthritis patients with <1 year symptom duration were recruited from 15 rheumatology clinics in Sweden between October 2002 and December 2005. After 3–4 months of methotrexate monotherapy, patients not achieving low disease activity were randomised to addition of infliximab or sulfasalazine+hydroxychloroquine (conventional treatment group). Costs of drugs, healthcare use, and productivity losses were retrieved from nationwide registers, while EuroQol 5-Dimensions utility was collected quarterly.
Of 487 patients initially enrolled, 128 and 130 were randomised to infliximab and conventional treatment, respectively. The infliximab group accumulated higher drug and healthcare costs (€27 487 vs €10 364; adjusted mean difference €16 956 (95% CI 14 647 to 19 162)), while productivity losses did not differ (€33 804 vs €29 220; €3961 (95% CI −3986 to 11 850)), resulting in higher societal cost compared to the conventional group (€61 291 vs €39 584; €20 916 (95% CI 12 800 to 28 660)). Mean accumulated quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) did not differ (1.10 vs 1.12; adjusted mean difference favouring infliximab treatment 0.01 (95% CI −0.07 to 0.08)). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for the infliximab versus conventional treatment strategy were €2 404 197/QALY from the societal perspective and €1 948 919/QALY from the healthcare perspective.
In early, methotrexate-refractory rheumatoid arthritis, a treatment strategy commencing with addition of infliximab, as compared to sulfasalazine+hydroxychloroquine, was not cost-effective over 21 months at willingness to pay levels generally considered acceptable.
Trial registration number:
PMCID: PMC4431324  PMID: 24737786
3.  Pretreatment multi-biomarker disease activity score and radiographic progression in early RA: results from the SWEFOT trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;74(6):1102-1109.
Prediction of radiographic progression (RP) in early rheumatoid arthritis (eRA) would be very useful for optimal choice among available therapies. We evaluated a multi-biomarker disease activity (MBDA) score, based on 12 serum biomarkers as a baseline predictor for 1-year RP in eRA.
Baseline disease activity score based on erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-ESR), disease activity score based on C-reactive protein (DAS28-CRP), CRP, MBDA scores and DAS28-ESR at 3 months were analysed for 235 patients with eRA from the Swedish Farmacotherapy (SWEFOT) clinical trial. RP was defined as an increase in the Van der Heijde-modified Sharp score by more than five points over 1 year. Associations between baseline disease activity measures, the MBDA score, and 1-year RP were evaluated using univariate and multivariate logistic regression, adjusted for potential confounders.
Among 235 patients with eRA, 5 had low and 29 moderate MBDA scores at baseline. None of the former and only one of the latter group (3.4%) had RP during 1 year, while the proportion of patients with RP among those with high MBDA score was 20.9% (p=0.021). Among patients with low/moderate CRP, moderate DAS28-CRP or moderate DAS28-ESR at baseline, progression occurred in 14%, 15%, 14% and 15%, respectively. MBDA score was an independent predictor of RP as a continuous (OR=1.05, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.08) and dichotomised variable (high versus low/moderate, OR=3.86, 95% CI 1.04 to 14.26).
In patients with eRA, the MBDA score at baseline was a strong independent predictor of 1-year RP. These results suggest that when choosing initial treatment in eRA the MBDA test may be clinically useful to identify a subgroup of patients at low risk of RP.
Trial registration number
WHO database at the Karolinska Institute: CT20080004; and NCT00764725.
PMCID: PMC4431327  PMID: 24812287
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Disease Activity; Anti-TNF; Cytokines; Patient perspective
4.  Disease activity guided dose reduction and withdrawal of adalimumab or etanercept compared with usual care in rheumatoid arthritis: open label, randomised controlled, non-inferiority trial  
Objective To evaluate whether a disease activity guided strategy of dose reduction of two tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, adalimumab or etanercept, is non-inferior in maintaining disease control in patients with rheumatoid arthritis compared with usual care.
Design Randomised controlled, open label, non-inferiority strategy trial.
Setting Two rheumatology outpatient clinics in the Netherlands, from December 2011 to May 2014.
Participants 180 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and low disease activity using adalimumab or etanercept; 121 allocated to the dose reduction strategy, 59 to usual care.
Interventions Disease activity guided dose reduction (advice to stepwise increase the injection interval every three months, until flare of disease activity or discontinuation) or usual care (no dose reduction advice). Flare was defined as increase in DAS28-CRP (a composite score measuring disease activity) greater than 1.2, or increase greater than 0.6 and current score of at least 3.2. In the case of flare, TNF inhibitor use was restarted or escalated.
Main outcome measures Difference in proportions of patients with major flare (DAS28-CRP based flare longer than three months) between the two groups at 18 months, compared against a non-inferiority margin of 20%. Secondary outcomes included TNF inhibitor use at study end, functioning, quality of life, radiographic progression, and adverse events.
Results Dose reduction of adalimumab or etanercept was non-inferior to usual care (proportion of patients with major flare at 18 months, 12% v 10%; difference 2%, 95% confidence interval −12% to 12%). In the dose reduction group, TNF inhibitor use could successfully be stopped in 20% (95% confidence interval 13% to 28%), the injection interval successfully increased in 43% (34% to 53%), but no dose reduction was possible in 37% (28% to 46%). Functional status, quality of life, relevant radiographic progression, and adverse events did not differ between the groups, although short lived flares (73% v 27%) and minimal radiographic progression (32% v 15%) were more frequent in dose reduction than usual care.
Conclusions A disease activity guided, dose reduction strategy of adalimumab or etanercept to treat rheumatoid arthritis is non-inferior to usual care with regard to major flaring, while resulting in the successful dose reduction or stopping in two thirds of patients.
Trial registration Dutch trial register (, NTR 3216.
PMCID: PMC4391970  PMID: 25858265
5.  Diagnostic utility of musculoskeletal ultrasound in patients with suspected arthritis – a probabilistic approach 
This study aimed to assess the utility of musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSUS) in patients with joint symptoms using a probabilistic approach.
One hundred and three patients without prior rheumatologic diagnosis and referred to our clinic for evaluation of inflammatory arthritis were included. Patients were assessed clinically including joint examination, laboratory testing including acute-phase reactants, rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti citrulinated protein antibody (ACPA), and radiographs of hands and feet if clinically indicated. A diagnostic assessment was then performed by the responsible rheumatologist where the probability of a) any inflammatory arthritis and b) rheumatoid arthritis was given on a 5-point scale ranging from 0 to 20% up to 80 to 100% probability. Subsequently, an ultrasound examination of the wrist, metacarpophalangeal (MCP), proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints 2 to 5 in both hands, metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints 2 to 5 in both feet and any symptomatic joints was performed and the results presented to the same rheumatologist. The latter then assessed the diagnostic probabilities again, using the same scale.
The rheumatologists’ certainty for presence/absence of inflammatory arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis was increased significantly following ultrasound performance. The proportion of patient for whom diagnostic certainty for inflammatory arthritis was maximal was 33.0% before and 71.8% after musculoskeletal ultrasound (P <0.001). With regard to a diagnosis of RA, the proportions were 31.1% pre-test and 61.2% post-test (P <0.001). MSUS findings agreed with the final diagnosis in 95% of patients.
Musculoskeletal ultrasound, when added to routine rheumatologic investigation, greatly increases the diagnostic certainty in patients referred for the evaluation of inflammatory arthritis. The changes from pre-test to post-test probability quantify the diagnostic utility of musculoskeletal ultrasound in probabilistic terms.
PMCID: PMC4209056  PMID: 25270355
7.  Advances in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis 
F1000Prime Reports  2014;6:31.
The intense pursuit of novel therapies in rheumatoid arthritis has provided physicians with an assorted set of biologic drugs to treat patients with moderate to severe disease activity. Nine different biologic therapies are currently available: seven inhibitors of pro-inflammatory cytokines (five targeting tumor necrosis factor [TNF], one interleukin [IL]-1 and one IL-6), as well as a T- and a B-lymphocyte targeting agent. All these drugs have roughly similar efficacy profiles and are approved as first- or second-line therapy in patients who failed to respond to conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and in most cases for first line use in rheumatoid arthritis as well. Despite the irrefutable clinical and radiological benefits of biologic therapies, there are still low rates of patients achieving stable remission. Therefore, the quest for new and more effective biologic therapies continues and every year new drugs are tested. Simultaneously, optimal use of established agents is being studied in different ways. Recently, the approval of the first small molecule targeting intracellular pathways has opened a new chapter in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Other emerging treatment strategies include the activation of regulatory T cells as well as new cytokine-targeting therapies.
PMCID: PMC4017904  PMID: 24860653
8.  Lupus Science and Medicine: the Editors present highlights for the bedside and for the bench in the inaugural issue 
Lupus Science & Medicine  2014;1(1):e000033.
PMCID: PMC4213829  PMID: 25379193
Lupus Nephritis; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; T Cells
9.  Early start and stop of biologics: has the time come? 
BMC Medicine  2014;12:25.
Despite considerable advances in the management of rheumatoid arthritis, results are still not satisfactory for all patients. The treatment goal in rheumatoid arthritis is remission, and there currently are numerous conventional and biological medications available to reach this aim. There are also different treatment strategies but with only limited comparative evidence about their efficacies. More patients now achieve remission while on treatment, but it remains elusive in the majority of patients. Treatment-free remission, the ultimate goal of therapy, is only achieved in very few patients; even when this happens, it is most likely due to the natural course of the disease rather than to any specific therapies. Modern treatment is based on the initiation of aggressive therapy as soon as the diagnosis is established, and on modifying or intensifying therapy guided by frequent assessment of disease activity. In this commentary we will discuss the current treatment paradigm as well as the possibility of an induction-maintenance regimen with biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in early rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3915229  PMID: 24502187
Biologics; Rheumatoid arthritis; Treatment
10.  Dose REduction strategy of subcutaneous TNF inhibitors in rheumatoid arthritis: design of a pragmatic randomised non inferiority trial, the DRESS study 
Preliminary, mostly uncontrolled studies suggest that dose reduction or discontinuation of tumour necrosis factor blockers can be achieved in a relevant proportion of patients with RA without loss of disease control. However, long term safety, cost effectiveness and feasibility in clinical practice remain uncertain.
This study is a 18-months pragmatic, non-inferiority, cost minimalisation, randomized controlled trial on dose reduction and discontinuation of the subcutaneous tumour necrosis factor (TNF) blockers adalimumab and etanercept in RA patients with low disease activity. 180 RA patients with low disease activity (DAS28 < 3.2 or clinical judgment of the rheumatologist) are randomized 2:1 to either increased spacing and eventually discontinuation after 6 months of the TNF blocker, and usual care. Implementation is done in routine daily care, using treat to target and feedback implementation in both treatment arms. The primary outcome is non-inferiority (NI margin 20%) in cumulative incidence of persistent (> 3 months) RA flare, according to a recently validated DAS28 based flare criterion (DAS28 change > 1.2, or DAS28 increase of 0.6 and current DAS28 ≥ 3.2). Secondary outcomes include mean disease activity, function, radiographic progression, safety and cost effectiveness. Cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) differences between groups are expressed as a decremental cost effectiveness ratio (DCER), i.e. saved costs divided by (possible) loss in QALY.
The design of this study targeted several clinical and methodological issues on TNF blocker dose de-escalation, including how to taper the TNF blockers, the satisfactory control condition, how to define flare, implementation in clinical practice, and the choice of the non-inferiority margin. Pragmatic cost minimalisation studies using non-inferiority designs and DCERs will become more mainstream as cost effectiveness in healthcare gains importance.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register NTR3216, The study has received ethical review board approval (number NL37704.091.11)
PMCID: PMC4016115  PMID: 24152421
Rheumatoid arthritis; Dose reduction; Discontinuation; Anti TNF; Spacing; Randomised controlled trial; Non-inferiority; Cost minimalisation; Design; Decremental cost effectiveness ratio (DCER)
11.  Derivation and Validation of Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Classification Criteria for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(8):2677-2686.
The Systemic Lupus Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) revised and validated the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) SLE classification criteria in order to improve clinical relevance, meet stringent methodology requirements and incorporate new knowledge in SLE immunology.
The classification criteria were derived from a set of 702 expert-rated patient scenarios. Recursive partitioning was used to derive an initial rule that was simplified and refined based on SLICC physician consensus. SLICC validated the classification criteria in a new validation sample of 690 SLE patients and controls.
Seventeen criteria were identified. The SLICC criteria for SLE classification requires: 1) Fulfillment of at least four criteria, with at least one clinical criterion AND one immunologic criterion OR 2) Lupus nephritis as the sole clinical criterion in the presence of ANA or anti-dsDNA antibodies. In the derivation set, the SLICC classification criteria resulted in fewer misclassifications than the current ACR classification criteria (49 versus 70, p=0.0082), had greater sensitivity (94% versus 86%, p<0.0001) and equal specificity (92% versus 93%, p=0.39). In the validation set, the SLICC Classification criteria resulted in fewer misclassifications (62 versus 74, p=0.24), had greater sensitivity (97% versus 83%, p<0.0001) but less specificity (84% versus 96%, p<0.0001).
The new SLICC classification criteria performed well on a large set of patient scenarios rated by experts. They require that at least one clinical criterion and one immunologic criterion be present for a classification of SLE. Biopsy confirmed nephritis compatible with lupus (in the presence of SLE autoantibodies) is sufficient for classification.
PMCID: PMC3409311  PMID: 22553077
12.  Evaluation of hand bone loss by digital X-ray radiogrammetry as a complement to clinical and radiographic assessment in early rheumatoid arthritis: results from the SWEFOT trial 
To investigate hand bone loss (HBL) measured by digital X-ray radiogrammetry (DXR) in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) receiving different treatment regimens, and to evaluate if DXR change rates during the first 12 months correlate with radiological damage after 24 months.
From the total SWEFOT trial population, 159 patients had hand radiographs correctly timed and taken with same modality to be analyzed with DXR. All patients started treatment with methotrexate. After 3–4 months, patients with DAS28 > 3.2 were randomized to add sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine (triple therapy) or infliximab (MTX + INF). Those with DAS28 ≤3.2 were followed in regular care. Radiographic progression over 24 months was scored according to the Sharp van der Heijde score (SHS) and defined as >5 increase in T-SHS over 24 months. Hand bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by DXR at inclusion and 12 months and a change ≥2.5 mg/cm2/month was used as a cut-off for HBL.
In the MTX responders, triple therapy, and MTX + INF groups, the proportions with HBL were 4.1%, 22.2% and 16.4%, respectively (p = 0.01), and the mean (SD) radiological progression in these groups was 3.91 (6.72), 7.40 (14.63) and 2.72 (4.55) respectively (p = 0.06). Patients with HBL had significantly greater risk for radiographic progression, compared with patients without HBL (odds ratio 3.09, 95% CI =1.20–7.79, p = 0.02).
Non-responders to MTX had a significantly greater risk of HBL than MTX-responders, despite the add-on therapies. Patients with HBL during the 12 months had greater risk of radiographic progression after 24 months. Evaluation of HBL may help to identify patients who are at risk of radiographic progression.
PMCID: PMC3599105  PMID: 23497111
13.  Influence of FCGR3A genotype on the therapeutic response to rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis: an observational cohort study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001524.
To determine whether a polymorphism in the Fcγ receptor type IIIA (FCGR3A-F158V), influencing immunoglobulin G binding affinity, relates to the therapeutic efficacy of rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.
Observational cohort study.
Three university hospital rheumatology units in Sweden.
Patients with established RA (n=177; 145 females and 32 males) who started rituximab (Mabthera) as part of routine care.
Primary outcome measures
Response to rituximab therapy in relation to FCGR3A genotype, including stratification for sex.
The frequency of responders differed significantly across FCGR3A genotypes (p=0.017 in a 3×2 contingency table). Heterozygous patients showed the highest response rate at 83%, as compared with patients carrying 158FF (68%) or 158VV (56%) (p=0.028 and 0.016, respectively). Among 158VV patients, response rates differed between male and female patients (p=0.036), but not among 158FF or 158VF patients (p=0.72 and 0.46, respectively).
Therapeutic efficacy of rituximab in RA patients is influenced by FCGR3A genotype, with the highest response rates found among heterozygous patients. This may suggest that different rituximab mechanisms of action in RA are optimally balanced in FCGR3A-158VF patients. Similar to the previously described associations with RA susceptibility and disease course, the impact of 158VV on rituximab response may be influenced by sex.
PMCID: PMC3467642  PMID: 23002160
Rheumatology; Immunology; Therapeutics
14.  Gender and the treatment of immune-mediated chronic inflammatory diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis: an observational study 
BMC Medicine  2012;10:82.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and psoriasis are immune-mediated inflammatory diseases with similarities in pathophysiology, and all can be treated with similar biological agents. Previous studies have shown that there are gender differences with regard to disease characteristics in RA and IBD, with women generally having worse scores on pain and quality of life measurements. The relationship is less clear for psoriasis. Because treatment differences between men and women could explain the dissimilarities, we investigated gender differences in the disease characteristics before treatment initiation and in the biologic treatment prescribed.
Data on patients with RA or IBD were collected from two registries in which patients treated with biologic medication were enrolled. Basic demographic data and disease activity parameters were collected from a time point just before the initiation of the biologic treatment. For patients with psoriasis, the data were taken from the 2010 annual report of the Swedish Psoriasis Register for systemic treatment, which included also non-biologic treatment. For all three diseases, the prescribed treatment and disease characteristics were compared between men and women.
In total, 4493 adult patients were included in the study (1912 with RA, 131 with IBD, and 2450 with psoriasis). Most of the treated patients with RA were women, whereas most of the patients with IBD or psoriasis were men. There were no significant differences between men and women in the choice of biologics. At treatment start, significant gender differences were seen in the subjective disease measurements for both RA and psoriasis, with women having higher (that is, worse) scores than men. No differences in objective measurements were found for RA, but for psoriasis men had higher (that is, worse) scores for objective disease activity measures. A similar trend to RA was seen in IBD.
Women with RA or psoriasis scored significantly higher on subjective, but not on objective, disease activity measures than men, and the same trend was seen in IBD. This indicates that at the same level of treatment, the disease has a greater effect in women. These findings might suggest that in all three diseases, subjective measures are discounted to some extent in the therapeutic decision-making process, which could indicate undertreatment in female patients.
PMCID: PMC3414735  PMID: 22853635
15.  Anti-type II collagen antibodies are associated with early radiographic destruction in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R100.
We have previously reported that high levels of antibodies specific for native human type II collagen (anti-CII) at the time of RA diagnosis were associated with concurrent but not later signs of inflammation. This was associated with CII/anti-CII immune complex (IC)-induced production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in vitro. In contrast, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies (anti-CCP) were associated both with late inflammation and late radiological destruction in the same RA cohort. We therefore hypothesized that anti-CII are also associated with early erosions.
Two-hundred-and-fifty-six patients from an early RA cohort were included. Baseline levels of anti-CII, anti-CCP and anti-mutated citrullinated vimentin were analyzed with ELISA, and rheumatoid factor levels were determined by nephelometry. Radiographs of hands and feet at baseline, after one and after two years were quantified using the 32-joints Larsen erosion score.
Levels of anti-CII were bimodally distributed in the RA cohort, with a small (3.1%, 8/256) group of very high outliers with a median level 87 times higher than the median for the healthy control group. Using a cut-off discriminating the outlier group that was associated with anti-CII IC-induced production of proinflammatory cytokines in vitro, baseline anti-CII antibodies were significantly (p = 0.0486) associated with increased radiographic damage at the time of diagnosis. Anti-CII-positive patient had also significantly increased HAQ score (p = 0.0303), CRP (p = 0.0026) and ESR (p = 0.0396) at the time of diagnosis but not during follow-up. The median age among anti-CII-positive subjects was 12 years higher than among the anti-CII-negative patients.
In contrary to anti-CCP, anti-CII-positive patients with RA have increased joint destruction and HAQ score at baseline. Anti-CII thus characterizes an early inflammatory/destructive phenotype, in contrast to the late appearance of an inflammatory/destructive phenotype in anti-CCP positive RA patients. The anti-CII phenotype might account for part of the elderly acute onset RA phenotype with rather good prognosis.
PMCID: PMC3446477  PMID: 22548748
16.  Sustained inhibition of progressive joint damage with rituximab plus methotrexate in early active rheumatoid arthritis: 2-year results from the randomised controlled trial IMAGE 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(3):351-357.
In the IMAGE study, rituximab plus methotrexate (MTX) inhibited joint damage and improved clinical outcomes at 1 year in MTX-naïve patients with early active rheumatoid arthritis.
The aim of this study was to assess joint damage progression and clinical outcomes over 2 years.
Patients (n=755) were randomised to receive rituximab 2×500 mg+MTX, 2×1000 mg+MTX or placebo+MTX. The placebo-controlled period continued to week 104. Two-year end points were defined as secondary or exploratory and included change in total Genant-modified Sharp score (mTSS), total erosion score and joint space narrowing score from baseline to week 104. Clinical efficacy and physical function end points were also assessed.
At 2 years, rituximab 2×1000 mg+MTX maintained inhibition of progressive joint damage versus MTX alone (mTSS change 0.41 vs 1.95; p<0.0001 (79% inhibition)), and a higher proportion of patients receiving rituximab 2×1000 mg+MTX had no radiographic progression over 2 years compared with those receiving MTX alone (57% vs 37%; p<0.0001). Contrary to 1-year results, exploratory analysis of rituximab 2×500 mg+MTX at 2 years showed that progressive joint damage was slowed by ∼61% versus placebo+MTX (mTSS, exploratory p=0.0041). Improvements in clinical signs and symptoms and physical function seen after 1 year in rituximab-treated patients versus those receiving placebo were maintained at year 2. Safety profiles were similar between groups.
Treatment with rituximab 2×1000 mg+MTX was associated with sustained improvements in radiographic, clinical and functional outcomes over 2 years.
Clinical identifier NCT00299104.
PMCID: PMC3277723  PMID: 22012969
17.  Integrated safety in tocilizumab clinical trials 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(5):R141.
The efficacy and safety of tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis have been evaluated in a comprehensive phase 3 program. Patients from these randomized trials could receive tocilizumab treatment in open-label extension trials. Here, the long-term safety profile of tocilizumab, using pooled data from all of these trials, is reported.
Cumulative safety data (as of February 6, 2009) from five core phase 3 trials, two ongoing extension trials, and one clinical pharmacology study were analyzed. Two patient populations were evaluated: an all-control population (n = 4,199), which included all patients randomly assigned in the placebo-controlled portions of the five core studies, and an all-exposed population (n = 4,009), which included patients from any of the eight studies who received at least one dose of tocilizumab.
Total exposure to tocilizumab was 8,580 patient years (PY), and total duration of observation was 9,414 PY. Overall adverse event (AE) and serious AE (SAE) rates were 278.2/100 PY and 14.4/100 PY, respectively. These events included serious infections (4.7/100 PY), opportunistic infections (0.23/100 PY), gastrointestinal perforations (0.28/100 PY), malignancy (1.1/100 PY), myocardial infarction (0.25/100 PY), and stroke (0.19/100 PY). The rates of SAEs and serious infections were stable over time; no increase with prolonged exposure was noted.
The longer-term safety profile of tocilizumab (mean treatment duration, 2.4 years) is consistent with that observed in the phase 3 studies (duration up to 1 year).
PMCID: PMC3308069  PMID: 21884601
18.  Patient Preference Assessment Reveals Disease Aspects Not Covered by Recommended Outcomes in Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis 
ISRN Rheumatology  2011;2011:463124.
Objectives. Polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM) are characterized by impaired muscle function with a majority of patients developing sustained disability. The aim of this study was to evaluate the patient's individual priorities (patient preference) of disabilities most important to improve in PM/DM using the MacMaster Toronto Arthritis Patient Preference Disability Questionnaire (MACTAR), to correlate the MACTAR to myositis outcomes and to evaluate its test-retest reliability. Methods. Twenty-eight patients with PM/DM performed recommended outcomes as well as the MACTAR, which was performed twice with one week apart. Results. Sexual activity, walking, biking, social activities, and sleep constituted the predominating disabilities. Seventy-two and 33% of the identified disabilities were not covered by items of the Health Assessment Questionnaire and the Myositis Activities Profile. Correlations between the MACTAR and health-related quality of life measures were rs = −0.67–0.73, correlations with measures of activities of daily living and participation in society were rs = 0.51–0.60 with lower correlations for other outcomes. Intraclass correlation (ICC) and weighted Kappa (Kw) coefficients were 0.83 and 0.68, respectively, for test-retest reliability of the MACTAR. Conclusions. The MACTAR interview had promising measurement properties and identified patient preference disabilities in PM/DM that were not covered by recommended outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3263738  PMID: 22389795
19.  Certolizumab pegol plus methotrexate provides broad relief from the burden of rheumatoid arthritis: analysis of patient-reported outcomes from the RAPID 2 trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(6):996-1002.
To assess the impact of certolizumab pegol (CZP) on patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and to interpret these results using number needed to treat (NNT), and associations between PRO responses and longer term outcomes.
A total of 619 patients with active RA were randomised to CZP 200 or 400 mg, or placebo plus methotrexate (MTX). PROs assessed included pain, patient's global assessment of disease activity (PtGA), physical function, fatigue and health-related quality of life. Treatment impact on PROs, NNT to achieve simultaneous improvements in multiple PROs and correlations between PROs were calculated. Times to onset of improvements greater than or equal to minimum clinically important differences (MCIDs) in pain as a determinant of clinical outcomes at week 24 were compared between week 6 and 12 responders, and in patients with improvements in pain ≥MCID at week 12 (week 12 responders/non-responders).
CZP 200 and 400 mg plus MTX were associated with rapid, clinically meaningful improvements in all PROs. The NNT for subjects to report changes ≥MCID in up to five PROs was two to three, and five for all six PROs (pain, PtGA, physical function, fatigue and short-form 36-item Physical and Mental Component Summary Scores). More patients with improvements ≥MCID in pain at week 6 than those at week 12 had lower disease activity at week 24. Week 12 pain responders had better clinical outcomes at week 24 than non-responders.
The data demonstrate that CZP provides broad relief from the burden of RA.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC3086050  PMID: 21415050
20.  Updated consensus statement on the use of rituximab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(6):909-920.
Since initial approval for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), rituximab has been evaluated in clinical trials involving various populations with RA. Information has also been gathered from registries. This report therefore updates the 2007 consensus document on the use of rituximab in the treatment of RA.
Preparation of this new document involved many international experts experienced in the treatment of RA. Following a meeting to agree upon the core agenda, a systematic literature review was undertaken to identify all relevant data. Data were then interrogated by a drafting committee, with subsequent review and discussion by a wider expert committee leading to the formulation of an updated consensus statement. These committees also included patients with RA.
The new statement covers wide-ranging issues including the use of rituximab in earlier RA and impact on structural progression, and aspects particularly pertinent to rituximab such as co-medication, optimal dosage regimens, repeat treatment cycles and how to manage non-response. Biological therapy following rituximab usage is also addressed, and safety concerns including appropriate screening for hepatitis, immunoglobulin levels and infection risk. This consensus statement will support clinicians and inform patients when using B-cell depletion in the management of RA, providing up-to-date information and highlighting areas for further research.
New therapeutic strategies and treatment options for RA, a chronic destructive and disabling disease, have expanded over recent years. These have been summarised in general strategic suggestions and specific management recommendations, emphasising the importance of expedient disease-modifying antirheumatic drug implementation and tight disease control. This consensus statement is in line with these fundamental principles of management.
PMCID: PMC3086093  PMID: 21378402
21.  Low‐dose glucocorticoid therapy decreases risk for treatment‐limiting infusion reaction to infliximab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(11):1462-1466.
Background and objective
Treatment‐limiting infusion reactions to infliximab have not been fully explained in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Our main objective is to investigate the role of daily oral glucocorticoids use on such reactions.
Forty‐three patients with immediate‐type infusion reactions were identified in a large registry‐based cohort. These patients were then compared with the entire cohort (n = 639) and, in a separate analysis, to a nested matched control group (n = 43). The following base‐line variables were compared: use of oral glucocorticoids, health‐assessment questionnaire, 28‐joint count‐based disease activity score, duration of disease and number of failed disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs.
The proportion of infusions associated with infusion reactions decreased significantly during the study period (p = 0.0024). Fifty per cent of the patients in the cohort were treated with daily low‐dose glucocorticoids at baseline. 15/326 (4.6%) patients had an infusion reaction as compared with 28/324 (8.6%) of patients without glucocorticoid treatment (p = 0.057). In the matched comparison, 15/43 (35%) of the cases were on low‐dose glucocorticoids as compared with 27/43 (64%) of the controls (p = 0.017). The use of low‐dose glucocorticoids was associated with a significantly lower risk for a treatment‐limiting infusion reactions in a Kaplan–Meier analysis (p = 0.04). The number needed to treat to prevent a treatment‐limiting infusion reaction was 25 (95% CI: 13 to 527) in the cohort.
The use of daily low‐dose glucocorticoids is associated with a lower risk for treatment‐limiting infusion reactions to infliximab. Overall, treatment‐limiting infusion reactions have become significantly less common during the past 5 years.
PMCID: PMC2111638  PMID: 17502359
22.  Time‐dependent increase in risk of hospitalisation with infection among Swedish RA patients treated with TNF antagonists 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(10):1339-1344.
The degree to which treatment with tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists may be associated with increased risks for serious infections is unclear. An observational cohort study was performed using prospectively collected data from the Swedish Biologics Register (ARTIS) and other national Swedish registers.
First, in the ARTIS, all 4167 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients starting TNF antagonist treatment between 1999 and 2003 were identified. Secondly, in the Swedish Inpatient Register, all individuals hospitalised for any reason and who also carried a diagnosis of RA, between 1964 and 2003 (n = 44 946 of whom 2692 also occurred in ARTIS), were identified. Thirdly, in the Swedish Inpatient Register, all hospitalisations listing an infection between 1999 and 2003 were identified. By cross‐referencing these three data sets, RRs for hospitalisation with infection associated with TNF antagonist treatment were calculated within the cohort of 44 946 RA patients, using Cox regression taking sex, age, geography, co‐morbidity and use of inpatient care into account.
Among the 4167 patients treated with TNF antagonists, 367 hospitalisations with infections occurred during 7776 person‐years. Within the cohort of 44 496 RA patients, the RR for infection associated with TNF antagonists was 1.43 (95% CI 1.18 to 1.73) during the first year of treatment, 1.15 (95% CI 0.88 to 1.51) during the second year of treatment, and 0.82 (95% CI 0.62 to 1.08) for subjects remaining on their first TNF antagonist treatment after 2 years.
Treatment with TNF antagonists may be associated with a small to moderate increase in risk of hospitalisation with infection, which disappears with increasing treatment duration.
PMCID: PMC1994293  PMID: 17261532
23.  Switching between anti‐tumour necrosis factors: trying to get a handle on a complex issue 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(7):849-851.
The question of switching is not only a question of clinical practice, but has an important scientific dimension as well See linked article, p 893
PMCID: PMC1955116  PMID: 17576784
24.  EULAR recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(6):964-975.
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may differ among rheumatologists and currently, clear and consensual international recommendations on RA treatment are not available. In this paper recommendations for the treatment of RA with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and glucocorticoids (GCs) that also account for strategic algorithms and deal with economic aspects, are described. The recommendations are based on evidence from five systematic literature reviews (SLRs) performed for synthetic DMARDs, biological DMARDs, GCs, treatment strategies and economic issues. The SLR-derived evidence was discussed and summarised as an expert opinion in the course of a Delphi-like process. Levels of evidence, strength of recommendations and levels of agreement were derived. Fifteen recommendations were developed covering an area from general aspects such as remission/low disease activity as treatment aim via the preference for methotrexate monotherapy with or without GCs vis-à-vis combination of synthetic DMARDs to the use of biological agents mainly in patients for whom synthetic DMARDs and tumour necrosis factor inhibitors had failed. Cost effectiveness of the treatments was additionally examined. These recommendations are intended to inform rheumatologists, patients and other stakeholders about a European consensus on the management of RA with DMARDs and GCs as well as strategies to reach optimal outcomes of RA, based on evidence and expert opinion.
PMCID: PMC2935329  PMID: 20444750
25.  Rapid and sustained improvements in health-related quality of life, fatigue, and other patient-reported outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with certolizumab pegol plus methotrexate over 1 year: results from the RAPID 1 randomized controlled trial 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R170.
The objective of this study was to assess the impact of certolizumab pegol (CZP) treatment on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), fatigue and other patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients with active RA (N = 982) were randomized 2:2:1 to subcutaneous CZP (400 mg at weeks 0, 2 and 4; followed by CZP 200 mg or 400 mg) plus methotrexate (MTX) every other week, or placebo (PBO) plus MTX. PRO assessments included HRQoL, fatigue, physical function, arthritis pain and disease activity. Adjusted mean changes from baseline in all PROs were obtained using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) applying last observation carried forward (LOCF) imputation. The proportion of patients achieving clinically meaningful improvements in each PRO was obtained using logistic regression and by applying non-responder imputation to missing values after rescue medication or withdrawal. The correlations between PRO responses and clinical responses were also assessed by tetrachoric correlation using non-responder imputation.
Patients treated with CZP plus MTX reported significant (P < 0.001), clinically meaningful improvements in HRQoL at the first assessment (week 12); reductions in fatigue, disease activity and pain and improvements in physical function were reported at week 1. In particular, CZP-treated patients reported improvements in mental health. Mean changes from baseline in the SF-36 Mental Component Summary (MCS) at week 52 for CZP 200 mg and 400 mg plus MTX, and PBO plus MTX were 6.4, 6.4 and 2.1, respectively (P < 0.001). In addition, mental health and vitality scores in CZP-treated patients approached age- and gender-adjusted US population norms. Improvements in all PROs were sustained. Similar benefits were reported with both CZP doses. Changes in SF-36 MCS scores had the lowest correlation with disease activity scores (DAS28) and American College of Rheumatology 20% improvement (ACR20) response rates, while improvements in pain showed the highest correlation.
Treatment with CZP plus MTX resulted in rapid and sustained improvements in all PROs, indicating that the benefits of CZP extend beyond clinical efficacy endpoints into areas that are more relevant and meaningful for patients on a daily basis.
Trial Registration NCT00152386.
PMCID: PMC3003523  PMID: 19909548

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