Objectives. To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of tocilizumab in RA patients in clinical practice.
Methods. We observed 232 consecutive RA patients who began tocilizumab in three rheumatology centres in Japan for 52 weeks. Clinical, radiographic and functional status and safety were evaluated.
Results. Mean age of the 232 patients was 59.1 years, mean duration of disease was 12.4 years and average DAS using the 28-joint count (DAS-28) was 5.6. Although 62.8% of the patients had been treated previously with anti-TNF biologics, clinical remission at Week 52 was achieved in 43.7%, radiographic non-progression in 62.8% and functional remission in 26.4%. Retention rate at Week 52 was 71.1%, and the same for those with or without previous anti-TNF treatment. Adverse drug reactions leading to tocilizumab discontinuation were observed in 15.5% of patients, the most frequent adverse drug reaction being pneumonia in eight cases. On multivariate logistic regression analysis, DAS-28, HAQ-disability index (HAQ-DI), concomitant MTX and concomitant glucocorticoids (GCs) were predictive variables for clinical remission at Week 52 of tocilizumab treatment. In particular, HAQ-DI was found to be a predictive variable for remission of all three types—clinical, radiographic and functional—at Week 52 of tocilizumab treatment.
Conclusions. In daily clinical practice, tocilizumab exhibited excellent effectiveness in established RA patients, some of whom had failed to respond to previous anti-TNF treatment. Although further detailed safety findings are required, this study provides valuable real-world findings on the management of RA with tocilizumab.