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1.  A critical evaluation of the role of subcutaneous abatacept in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: patient considerations 
There are now more therapeutic options for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than ever before, involving a range of mechanisms of action and different routes of administration. The T-cell costimulation modulator abatacept is the first biologic therapy for RA to be available in both subcutaneous (SC) and intravenous (IV) formulations. This review evaluates the utility of SC abatacept, with a particular focus on patient-reported outcomes, including physical function, pain, fatigue, and quality of life. Practical questions relating to the clinical use of SC abatacept are also addressed, including the relevance of abatacept’s mechanism of action; whether IV and SC abatacept are comparable; if patients can easily switch from IV to SC abatacept; whether an IV loading dose is needed; and if temporary treatment interruptions or lack of concomitant methotrexate can affect efficacy or safety. Topics that are of particular concern to patients when using SC biologics, such as injection-site reactions, are also discussed. Observational data from registries and meta-analyses of clinical studies suggest comparable clinical efficacy between biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs; however, such analyses rarely focus on key determinants of patient quality of life such as pain, fatigue, and physical function. The head-to-head AMPLE study is one of the first studies powered to directly compare two biologics in patients with RA. Patient-reported outcomes from year 1 of the ongoing study are evaluated, demonstrating comparable improvements in physical function, pain, fatigue, Short Form-36 Health Survey, and Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3 scores between SC abatacept and SC adalimumab when administered with concomitant methotrexate. In summary, the data presented herein show that the SC formulation of abatacept provides a valuable addition to the range of available therapy options for patients with RA, capable of significantly improving key patient considerations such as pain, disability, loss of function, fatigue, and quality of life.
doi:10.2147/BTT.S55783
PMCID: PMC3933241  PMID: 24600202
rheumatoid arthritis; abatacept; subcutaneous; biologic DMARD; patient-reported outcomes
2.  Benefits and risks of low-dose glucocorticoid treatment in the patient with rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2014;53(10):1742-1751.
Glucocorticosteroids (GCs) have been employed extensively for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune and systemic inflammatory disorders. Their use is supported by extensive literature and their utility is reflected in their incorporation into current treatment guidelines for RA and other conditions. Nevertheless, there is still some concern regarding the long-term use of GCs because of their potential for clinically important adverse events, particularly with an extended duration of treatment and the use of high doses. This article systematically reviews the efficacy for radiological and clinical outcomes for low-dose GCs (defined as ≤10 mg/day prednisone equivalent) in the treatment of RA. Results reviewed indicated that low-dose GCs, usually administered in combination with synthetic DMARDs, most often MTX, significantly improve structural outcomes and decrease symptom severity in patients with RA. Safety data indicate that GC-associated adverse events are dose related, but still occur in patients receiving low doses of these agents. Concerns about side effects associated with GCs have prompted the development of new strategies aimed at improving safety without compromising efficacy. These include altering the structure of existing GCs and the development of delayed-release GC formulations so that drug delivery is timed to match greatest symptom severity. Optimal use of low-dose GCs has the potential to improve long-term outcomes for patients with RA.
doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keu135
PMCID: PMC4165844  PMID: 24729402
rheumatoid arthritis; glucocorticoids; prednisone; disease modifying; treatment strategies; benefit–risk
3.  African American patients with gout: efficacy and safety of febuxostat vs allopurinol 
Background
African Americans are twice as likely as Caucasians to develop gout, but they are less likely to be treated with urate-lowering therapy (ULT). Furthermore, African Americans typically present with more comorbidities associated with gout, such as hypertension, obesity, and renal impairment. We determined the efficacy and safety of ULT with febuxostat or allopurinol in African American subjects with gout and associated comorbidities and in comparison to Caucasian gout subjects.
Methods
This is a secondary analysis of the 6-month Phase 3 CONFIRMS trial. Eligible gouty subjects with baseline serum urate (sUA) ≥ 8.0 mg/dL were randomized 1:1:1 to receive febuxostat 40 mg, febuxostat 80 mg, or allopurinol (300 mg or 200 mg depending on renal function) daily. All subjects received gout flare prophylaxis. Primary efficacy endpoint was the proportion of subjects in each treatment group with sUA < 6.0 mg/dL at the final visit. Additional endpoints included the proportion of subjects with mild or with moderate renal impairment who achieved a target sUA < 6.0 mg/dL at final visit. Adverse events (AEs) were recorded throughout the study.
Results
Of the 2,269 subjects enrolled, 10.0% were African American and 82.1% were Caucasian. African American subjects were mostly male (89.5%), obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2; 67.1%), with mean baseline sUA of 9.8 mg/dL and mean duration of gout of 10.4 years. The proportions of African American subjects with a baseline history of diabetes, renal impairment, or cardiovascular disease were significantly higher compared to Caucasians (p < 0.001). ULT with febuxostat 80 mg was superior to both febuxostat 40 mg (p < 0.001) and allopurinol (p = 0.004). Febuxostat 40 mg was comparable in efficacy to allopurinol. Significantly more African American subjects with mild or moderate renal impairment achieved sUA < 6.0 mg/dL in the febuxostat 80 group than in either the febuxostat 40 mg or allopurinol group (p < 0.05). Efficacy rates in all treatment groups regardless of renal function were comparable between African American and Caucasian subjects, as were AE rates.
Conclusions
In African American subjects with significant comorbidities, febuxostat 80 mg is significantly more efficacious than either febuxostat 40 mg or allopurinol 200/300 mg. Febuxostat was well tolerated in this African American population.
Please see related article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/15
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-15
PMCID: PMC3317813  PMID: 22316106
4.  The urate-lowering efficacy and safety of febuxostat in the treatment of the hyperuricemia of gout: the CONFIRMS trial 
Introduction
The purpose of this study was to compare urate-lowering (UL) efficacy and safety of daily febuxostat and allopurinol in subjects with gout and serum urate (sUA) ≥ 8.0 mg/dL in a six-month trial.
Methods
Subjects (n = 2,269) were randomized to febuxostat 40 mg or 80 mg, or allopurinol 300 mg (200 mg in moderate renal impairment). Endpoints included the proportion of all subjects with sUA <6.0 mg/dL and the proportion of subjects with mild/moderate renal impairment and sUA <6.0 mg/dL. Safety assessments included blinded adjudication of each cardiovascular (CV) adverse event (AE) and death.
Results
Comorbidities included: renal impairment (65%); obesity (64%); hyperlipidemia (42%); and hypertension (53%). In febuxostat 40 mg, febuxostat 80 mg, and allopurinol groups, primary endpoint was achieved in 45%, 67%, and 42%, respectively. Febuxostat 40 mg UL was statistically non-inferior to allopurinol, but febuxostat 80 mg was superior to both (P < 0.001). Achievement of target sUA in subjects with renal impairment was also superior with febuxostat 80 mg (72%; P < 0.001) compared with febuxostat 40 mg (50%) or allopurinol (42%), but febuxostat 40 mg showed greater efficacy than allopurinol (P = 0.021). Rates of AEs did not differ across treatment groups. Adjudicated (APTC) CV event rates were 0.0% for febuxostat 40 mg and 0.4% for both febuxostat 80 mg and allopurinol. One death occurred in each febuxostat group and three in the allopurinol group.
Conclusions
Urate-lowering efficacy of febuxostat 80 mg exceeded that of febuxostat 40 mg and allopurinol (300/200 mg), which were comparable. In subjects with mild/moderate renal impairment, both febuxostat doses were more efficacious than allopurinol and equally safe. At the doses tested, safety of febuxostat and allopurinol was comparable.
Clinical Trial Registration
NCT00430248
doi:10.1186/ar2978
PMCID: PMC2888216  PMID: 20370912

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