The efficacy of tocilizumab (TCZ), an anti-interleukin-6 receptor antibody, has not previously been evaluated in a population consisting exclusively of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
In a double-blind randomised controlled trial (FUNCTION), 1162 methotrexate (MTX)-naive patients with early progressive RA were randomly assigned (1:1:1:1) to one of four treatment groups: 4 mg/kg TCZ+MTX, 8 mg/kg TCZ+MTX, 8 mg/kg TCZ+placebo and placebo+MTX (comparator group). The primary outcome was remission according to Disease Activity Score using 28 joints (DAS28–erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) <2.6) at week 24. Radiographic and physical function outcomes were also evaluated. We report results through week 52.
The intent-to-treat population included 1157 patients. Significantly more patients receiving 8 mg/kg TCZ+MTX and 8 mg/kg TCZ+placebo than receiving placebo+MTX achieved DAS28-ESR remission at week 24 (45% and 39% vs 15%; p<0.0001). The 8 mg/kg TCZ+MTX group also achieved significantly greater improvement in radiographic disease progression and physical function at week 52 than did patients treated with placebo+MTX (mean change from baseline in van der Heijde–modified total Sharp score, 0.08 vs 1.14 (p=0.0001); mean reduction in Health Assessment Disability Index, −0.81 vs −0.64 (p=0.0024)). In addition, the 8 mg/kg TCZ+placebo and 4 mg/kg TCZ+MTX groups demonstrated clinical efficacy that was at least as effective as MTX for these key secondary endpoints. Serious adverse events were similar among treatment groups. Adverse events resulting in premature withdrawal occurred in 20% of patients in the 8 mg/kg TCZ+MTX group.
TCZ is effective in combination with MTX and as monotherapy for the treatment of patients with early RA.
Trial registration number
ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01007435
Early Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Methotrexate
To evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of subcutaneous (SC) tocilizumab (TCZ) versus intravenous (IV) TCZ, including switching formulations, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and inadequate response to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Patients (n=1262) were randomised 1:1 to receive TCZ-SC 162 mg weekly (qw)+placebo-IV every four weeks (q4w) or TCZ-IV 8 mg/kg q4w+placebo-SC qw in combination with DMARD(s). After a 24-week double-blind period, patients receiving TCZ-SC were re-randomised 11:1 to TCZ-SC (n=521) or TCZ-IV (TCZ-SC–IV, n=48), and patients receiving TCZ-IV were re-randomised 2:1 to TCZ-IV (n=372) or TCZ-SC (TCZ-IV–SC; n=186). Maintenance of clinical responses and safety through week 97 were assessed.
The proportions of patients who achieved American College of Rheumatology (ACR)20/50/70 responses, Disease Activity Score in 28 joints remission and improvement from baseline in Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index ≥0.3 were sustained through week 97 and comparable across arms. TCZ-SC had a comparable safety profile to TCZ-IV through week 97, except that injection site reactions (ISRs) were more common with TCZ-SC. Safety profiles in patients who switched were similar to those in patients who received continuous TCZ-SC or TCZ-IV treatment. The proportion of patients who developed anti-TCZ antibodies remained low across treatment arms. No association between anti-TCZ antibody development and clinical response or adverse events was observed.
The long-term efficacy and safety of TCZ-SC was maintained and comparable to that of TCZ-IV, except for ISRs. Profiles in patients who switched formulations were comparable to those in patients who received TCZ-IV or TCZ-SC. TCZ-SC provides additional treatment options for patients with RA.
Trial registration number
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Treatment
To assess structural damage progression with subcutaneous abatacept (ABA) in the Assessing Very Early Rheumatoid arthritis Treatment (AVERT) trial following abrupt withdrawal of all rheumatoid arthritis (RA) medication in patients achieving Disease Activity Score (DAS)-defined remission or low disease activity.
Patients with early, active RA were randomised to ABA plus methotrexate (ABA/MTX) 125 mg/week, ABA 125 mg/week or MTX for 12 months. All RA treatments were withdrawn after 12 months in patients with DAS28 (C reactive protein (CRP)) <3.2. Adjusted mean changes from baseline in MRI-based synovitis, osteitis and erosion were calculated for the intention-to-treat population.
351 patients were randomised and treated: ABA/MTX (n=119), ABA (n=116) or MTX (n=116). Synovitis and osteitis improved, and progression of erosion was statistically less with ABA/MTX versus MTX at month 12 (−2.35 vs −0.68, −2.58 vs −0.68, 0.19 vs 1.53, respectively; p<0.01 for each) and month 18 (−1.34 vs −0.49 −2.03 vs 0.34, 0.13 vs 2.0, respectively; p<0.01 for erosion); ABA benefits were numerically intermediate to those for ABA/MTX and MTX.
Structural benefits with ABA/MTX or ABA may be maintained 6 months after withdrawal of all treatments in patients who have achieved remission or low disease activity.
Trial registration number
Inflammation; Magnetic ResonaNce Imaging; Reactive arthritis
Biosimilars remain a hot topic in rheumatology, and some physicians are cautious about their application in the real world. With many products coming to market and a wealth of guidelines and recommendations concerning their use, there is a need to understand the changing landscape and the real clinical and health-economic potential offered by these agents. Notably, rheumatologists will be at the forefront of the use of biosimilar monoclonal antibodies/soluble receptors. Biosimilars offer cost savings and health gains for our patients and will play an important role in treating rheumatic diseases. We hope that these lower costs will compensate for inequities in access to therapy based on economic differences across countries. Since approved biosimilars have already demonstrated highly similar efficacy, it will be most important to establish pharmacovigilance databases across countries that are adequate to monitor long-term safety after marketing approval.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Economic Evaluations; DMARDs (biologic); Treatment; Anti-TNF
Reaching the therapeutic target of remission or low-disease activity has improved outcomes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) significantly. The treat-to-target recommendations, formulated in 2010, have provided a basis for implementation of a strategic approach towards this therapeutic goal in routine clinical practice, but these recommendations need to be re-evaluated for appropriateness and practicability in the light of new insights.
To update the 2010 treat-to-target recommendations based on systematic literature reviews (SLR) and expert opinion.
A task force of rheumatologists, patients and a nurse specialist assessed the SLR results and evaluated the individual items of the 2010 recommendations accordingly, reformulating many of the items. These were subsequently discussed, amended and voted upon by >40 experts, including 5 patients, from various regions of the world. Levels of evidence, strengths of recommendations and levels of agreement were derived.
The update resulted in 4 overarching principles and 10 recommendations. The previous recommendations were partly adapted and their order changed as deemed appropriate in terms of importance in the view of the experts. The SLR had now provided also data for the effectiveness of targeting low-disease activity or remission in established rather than only early disease. The role of comorbidities, including their potential to preclude treatment intensification, was highlighted more strongly than before. The treatment aim was again defined as remission with low-disease activity being an alternative goal especially in patients with long-standing disease. Regular follow-up (every 1–3 months during active disease) with according therapeutic adaptations to reach the desired state was recommended. Follow-up examinations ought to employ composite measures of disease activity that include joint counts. Additional items provide further details for particular aspects of the disease, especially comorbidity and shared decision-making with the patient. Levels of evidence had increased for many items compared with the 2010 recommendations, and levels of agreement were very high for most of the individual recommendations (≥9/10).
The 4 overarching principles and 10 recommendations are based on stronger evidence than before and are supposed to inform patients, rheumatologists and other stakeholders about strategies to reach optimal outcomes of RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Outcomes research; Treatment; Early Rheumatoid Arthritis; Disease Activity
Mavrilimumab, a human monoclonal antibody targeting the alpha subunit of the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor, was evaluated in a phase 2 randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to investigate efficacy and safety in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Subcutaneous mavrilimumab (10 mg, 30 mg, 50 mg, or 100 mg) or placebo was administered every other week for 12 weeks in subjects on stable background methotrexate therapy. The primary endpoint was the proportion of subjects achieving a ≥1.2 decrease from baseline in Disease Activity Score (DAS28-CRP) at week 12.
55.7% of mavrilimumab-treated subjects met the primary endpoint versus 34.7% placebo (p=0.003) at week 12; for the 10 mg, 30 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg groups, responses were 41.0% (p=0.543), 61.0% (p=0.011), 53.8% (p=0.071), and 66.7% (p=0.001) respectively. Response rate differences from placebo were observed at week 2 and increased throughout the treatment period. The 100 mg dose demonstrated a significant effect versus placebo on DAS28-CRP<2.6 (23.1% vs 6.7%, p=0.016), all categories of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria (ACR20: 69.2% vs 40.0%, p=0.005; ACR50: 30.8% vs 12.0%, p=0.021; ACR70: 17.9% vs 4.0%, p=0.030), and the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (−0.48 vs −0.25, p=0.005). A biomarker-based disease activity score showed a dose-dependent decrease at week 12, indicating suppression of disease-related biological pathways. Adverse events were generally mild or moderate in intensity. No significant hypersensitivity reactions, serious or opportunistic infections, or changes in pulmonary parameters were observed.
Mavrilimumab induced rapid clinically significant responses in RA subjects, suggesting that inhibiting the mononuclear phagocyte pathway may provide a novel therapeutic approach for RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Treatment; Disease Activity
To confirm the effectiveness and safety of the interleukin 6-receptor antagonist tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a setting close to real-life medical care in Germany.
A multicentre open-label phase IIIb study was undertaken. Patients with active RA with a 28-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS28) >3.2 despite previous disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) were treated with tocilizumab 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks. The primary end point was the proportion of patients achieving LDAS ≤3.2 at week 24; secondary end points included American College of Rheumatology (ACR), European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) or Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) responses and decrease in acute phase. Analyses in subgroups such as rheumatoid factor (RF)-positive versus RF-negative patients and patients with an inadequate response to treatment with DMARDs (DMARD-IR) versus those with an inadequate response to tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists (TNF antagonist-IR) were performed. Safety was assessed by adverse event documentation.
286 patients were treated and 83.6% completed the study. 41.6% had previously been treated with TNF antagonists. 57% of the intention-to-treat patients achieved the primary end point of LDAS, 47.6% achieved DAS remission <2.6 and a EULAR ‘good response’ was achieved by 54.9%; ACR50/70 response rates at week 24 were 50.7% and 33.9%, respectively. The mean±SD decrease in CDAI from baseline to week 24 was 71±29%. C reactive protein levels normalised rapidly within 1 week. Major improvements in fatigue, pain and morning stiffness were observed in the first 4 weeks and further improved until week 24. DAS28, EULAR and ACR responses at week 24 did not differ between RF-positive and RF-negative patients. TNF antagonist-naive patients responded better than patients who had previously failed on TNF antagonists. The safety profile of tocilizumab was comparable to that previously observed in the phase III trial programme. Serious infections were observed in 3.1% of patients.
Tocilizumab is highly effective in a setting close to real-life medical care with a rapid and sustained improvement in signs and symptoms of RA. A manageable safety profile was seen over the 24-week study period.
To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of adalimumab alone or in combination with standard disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients with active RA despite treatment with DMARDs or prior treatment with a tumour necrosis factor antagonist participated in a multicentre, open‐label clinical study of adalimumab 40 mg every other week for 12 weeks with an optional extension phase. Patients were allowed to continue with pre‐existing traditional DMARDs. Long‐term safety results are reported for all patients (4210 patient‐years (PYs) of adalimumab exposure). The observed effectiveness results at week 12 are reported using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria.
Among the 6610 treated patients, adalimumab was generally well tolerated. Serious infections occurred in 3.1% of patients (5.5/100 PYs, including active tuberculosis, 0.5/100 PYs). Demyelinating disease (0.06%) and systemic lupus erythematosus (0.03%) were rare serious adverse events. The standardised incidence ratio of malignancy was 0.71 (95% CI 0.49 to 1.01). The standardised mortality ratio was 1.07 (95% CI 0.75 to 1.49). At week 12, 69% of patients achieved an ACR20 response, 83% a moderate, and 33% a good EULAR response. Adalimumab was effective in combination with a variety of DMARDs. The addition of adalimumab to antimalarials was comparably effective to the combination of adalimumab and methotrexate.
Considering the limitations of an open‐label study, adalimumab alone or in combination with standard DMARDs appeared to be well tolerated and effective in 6610 difficult‐to‐treat patients with active RA treated in clinical practice.
adalimumab; rheumatoid arthritis; tumour necrosis factor; monoclonal antibody; antirheumatic agents
Indocyanine green (ICG)-enhanced fluorescence optical imaging (FOI) is an established technology for imaging of inflammation in animal models. In experimental models of arthritis, FOI findings corresponded to histologically proven synovitis. This is the first comparative study of FOI with other imaging modalities in humans with arthritis.
252 FOI examinations (Xiralite system, mivenion GmbH, Berlin, Germany; ICG bolus of 0.1 mg/kg/body weight, sequence of 360 images, one image per second) were compared with clinical examination (CE), ultrasonography (US) and MRI of patients with arthritis of the hands.
In an FOI sequence, three phases could be distinguished (P1–P3). With MRI as reference, FOI had a sensitivity of 76% and a specificity of 54%, while the specificity of phase 1 was 94%. FOI had agreement rates up to 88% versus CE, 64% versus greyscale US, 88% versus power Doppler US and 83% versus MRI, depending on the compared phase and parameter. FOI showed a higher rate of positive results compared to CE, US and MRI. In individual patients, FOI correlated significantly (p<0.05) with disease activity (Disease Activity Score 28, r=0.41), US (r=0.40) and RAMRIS (Rheumatoid Arthritis MRI Score) (r=0.56). FOI was normal in 97.8% of joints of controls.
ICG-enhanced FOI is a new technology offering sensitive imaging detection of inflammatory changes in subjects with arthritis. FOI was more sensitive than CE and had good agreement with CE, US in power Doppler mode and MRI, while showing more positive results than these. An adequate interpretation of an FOI sequence requires a separate evaluation of all phases. For the detection of synovitis and tenosynovitis, FOI appears to be as informative as 1.5 T MRI and US.
This study compared the efficacy and safety of subcutaneous (SC) versus intravenous (IV) formulations of tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis with an inadequate response to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD).
Patients (n=1262) were randomly assigned to receive tocilizumab-SC 162 mg weekly+placebo-IV every 4 weeks or tocilizumab-IV 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks+placebo-SC weekly in combination with traditional DMARD. The primary outcome was to demonstrate the non-inferiority of tocilizumab-SC to tocilizumab-IV with regard to the proportion of patients in each group achieving an American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20 response at week 24 using a 12% non-inferiority margin (NIM). Secondary outcomes were disease activity score using 28 joints (DAS28), ACR responses, health assessment questionnaire scores and safety assessments.
At week 24, 69.4% (95% CI 65.5 to 73.2) of tocilizumab-SC-treated patients versus 73.4% (95% CI 69.6 to 77.1) of tocilizumab-IV-treated patients achieved an ACR20 response (weighted difference between groups −4.0%, 95% CI −9.2 to 1.2); the 12% NIM was met. ACR50/70 responses, DAS28 and physical function improvements were comparable between the tocilizumab-SC and tocilizumab-IV groups. The safety profiles of tocilizumab-SC and tocilizumab-IV were similar, and the most common adverse event was infection. Injection-site reactions (ISR) occurred more frequently in the tocilizumab-SC group than in the tocilizumab-IV (placebo-SC) group. No anaphylaxis was reported over the 24 weeks.
Tocilizumab-SC 162 mg weekly demonstrated comparable efficacy to tocilizumab-IV 8 mg/kg. The safety profile of tocilizumab-SC is consistent with the known and well-established safety profile of tocilizumab-IV, with the exception of a higher incidence of ISR, which were more common with tocilizumab-SC administration.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Disease Activity
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
To evaluate clinical remission with subcutaneous abatacept plus methotrexate (MTX) and abatacept monotherapy at 12 months in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and maintenance of remission following the rapid withdrawal of all RA treatment.
In the Assessing Very Early Rheumatoid arthritis Treatment phase 3b trial, patients with early active RA were randomised to double-blind, weekly, subcutaneous abatacept 125 mg plus MTX, abatacept 125 mg monotherapy, or MTX for 12 months. Patients with low disease activity (Disease Activity Score (DAS)28 (C reactive protein (CRP)) <3.2) at month 12 entered a 12-month period of withdrawal of all RA therapy. The coprimary endpoints were the proportion of patients with DAS28 (CRP) <2.6 at month 12 and both months 12 and 18, for abatacept plus MTX versus MTX.
Patients had <2 years of RA symptoms, DAS28 (CRP) ≥3.2, anticitrullinated peptide-2 antibody positivity and 95.2% were rheumatoid factor positive. For abatacept plus MTX versus MTX, DAS28 (CRP) <2.6 was achieved in 60.9% versus 45.2% (p=0.010) at 12 months, and following treatment withdrawal, in 14.8% versus 7.8% (p=0.045) at both 12 and 18 months. DAS28 (CRP) <2.6 was achieved for abatacept monotherapy in 42.5% (month 12) and 12.4% (both months 12 and 18). Both abatacept arms had a safety profile comparable with MTX alone.
Abatacept plus MTX demonstrated robust efficacy compared with MTX alone in early RA, with a good safety profile. The achievement of sustained remission following withdrawal of all RA therapy suggests an effect of abatacept's mechanism on autoimmune processes.
Trial registration number
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Methotrexate; DMARDs (biological); Disease Activity
To evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles of mavrilimumab, a human monoclonal antibody targeting the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor-α, in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-escalating phase I study in subjects with RA who received stable methotrexate treatment for ≥3 months before enrolment. Subjects received single intravenous escalating doses of mavrilimumab (0.01–10.0 mg/kg) or placebo.
32 subjects were enrolled in this study (1 unblinded subject at 0.01 mg/kg and another at 0.03 mg/kg were followed by five sequential double-blinded cohorts, n=6 each, treated with 0.1, 0.3, 1.0, 3.0 and 10.0 mg/kg, respectively). Adverse events were mild or moderate and were reported with similar frequency across all treatment cohorts. One subject (10.0 mg/kg) experienced moderate face and neck urticaria during infusion that resolved with symptomatic treatment. Systemic clearance of mavrilimumab approached that of endogenous IgG at doses >1.0 mg/kg; pharmacodynamic activity was confirmed in the 1.0 and 3.0 mg/kg cohorts by suppression of suppressor of cytokine signalling 3 mRNA transcripts. In exploratory analyses, reductions of acute phase reactants were observed in subjects with elevated C-reactive protein (>5 mg/l) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (≥20.0 mm/h) at baseline. No significant change in Disease Activity Score 28-joint assessment (DAS28) was seen in any of the cohorts. In mavrilimumab-treated subjects (n=15) with baseline DAS28 >3.2, mean disease activity (DAS28) was significantly reduced at 4 weeks.
In this first-in-human study, mavrilimumab showed preliminary evidence of pharmacodynamic activity. Importantly, the safety and pharmacokinetic profiles of mavrilimumab support further clinical studies in RA.
Trial registration number: NCT00771420.
Remission is the established goal in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment. Although originally defined by a disease activity score in 28 joints (DAS28) <2.6, more stringent criteria may imply the absence of disease activity. The 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria provide the newest and most stringent definition of remission.
To evaluate post hoc the remission by ACR/EULAR criteria and compare the criteria with the conventional DAS28 in TAMARA, an open-label phase IIIb tocilizumab (TCZ) trial including patients with active RA receiving inadequate disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) inhibitor treatment.
286 patients were enrolled, 99.7% of patients were receiving a conventional DMARD and 41.6% had TNFα inhibitor pretreatment. Baseline mean DAS28 of 6.0 ± 1.0 fell to 2.6 ± 1.5 at week 24. DAS28 <2.6 was achieved by 47.6% at week 24. Remission rates with the new ACR/EULAR Boolean-based criteria for clinical studies were 15.0% after 12 weeks and 20.3% after 24 weeks. Of note, 13.5% of patients with previous TNFα blocker inadequate response still achieved remission according to the new ACR/EULAR criteria after 24 weeks. Clinical Disease Activity Index and Simplified Disease Activity Index remission rates were 24.1% and 25.2%, respectively.
Under the definition of the new stringent 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria, patients with active RA despite DMARD treatment and even after inadequate response to TNFα inhibitors, receiving TCZ showed significant rates of remission. Similar remission rates were achieved, when clinical practice criteria, not inclusive of acute phase reactants, were used.
The Study Group for Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis was established by the EULAR Standing Committee on Investigative Rheumatology to facilitate research into the preclinical and earliest clinically apparent phases of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This report describes the recommendation for terminology to be used to define specific subgroups during different phases of disease, and defines the priorities for research in this area. Terminology was discussed by way of a three-stage structured process: A provisional list of descriptors for each of the possible phases preceding the diagnosis of RA were circulated to members of the study group for review and feedback. Anonymised comments from the members on this list were fed back to participants before a 2-day meeting. 18 participants met to discuss these data, agree terminologies and prioritise important research questions. The study group recommended that, in prospective studies, individuals without RA are described as having: genetic risk factors for RA; environmental risk factors for RA; systemic autoimmunity associated with RA; symptoms without clinical arthritis; unclassified arthritis; which may be used in a combinatorial manner. It was recommended that the prefix ‘pre-RA with:’ could be used before any/any combination of the five points above but only to describe retrospectively a phase that an individual had progressed through once it was known that they have developed RA. An approach to dating disease onset was recommended. In addition, important areas for research were proposed, including research of other tissues in which an adaptive immune response may be initiated, and the identification of additional risk factors and biomarkers for the development of RA, its progression and the development of extra-articular features. These recommendations provide guidance on approaches to describe phases before the development of RA that will facilitate communication between researchers and comparisons between studies. A number of research questions have been defined, requiring new cohorts to be established and new techniques to be developed to image and collect material from different sites.
Since approval of tocilizumab (TCZ) for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), interleukin 6 (IL-6) pathway inhibition was evaluated in trials of TCZ and other agents targeting the IL-6 receptor and ligand in various RA populations and other inflammatory diseases. This consensus document informs on interference with the IL-6 pathway based on evidence and expert opinion.
Preparation of this document involved international experts in RA treatment and RA patients. A systematic literature search was performed that focused on TCZ and other IL6-pathway inhibitors in RA and other diseases. Subsequently, incorporating available published evidence and expert opinion, the steering committee and a broader expert committee (both including RA patients) formulated the current consensus statement.
The consensus statement covers use of TCZ as combination- or monotherapy in various RA populations and includes clinical, functional and structural aspects. The statement also addresses the second approved indication in Europe JIA and non-approved indications. Also early phase trials involving additional agents that target the IL-6 receptor or IL-6 were evaluated. Safety concerns, including haematological, hepatic and metabolic issues as well as infections, are addressed likewise.
The consensus statement identifies points to consider when using TCZ, regarding indications, contraindications, screening, dose, comedication, response evaluation and safety. The document is aimed at supporting clinicians and informing patients, administrators and payers on opportunities and limitations of IL-6 pathway inhibition.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Treatment
Suppression of the immunoinflammatory cascade by targeting interleukin 6 (IL-6) mediated effects constitutes a therapeutic option for chronic inflammatory diseases. Tocilizumab is the only IL-6 inhibitor (IL-6i) licensed for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), but also other agents targeting either IL-6 or its receptor are investigated in various indications.
To review published evidence on safety and efficacy of IL-6i in inflammatory diseases.
We performed systematic literature searches in Medline and Cochrane, screened EULAR and American College of Rheumatology meeting-abstracts, and accessed http://www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Comprehensive evidence supports the efficacy of tocilizumab in RA in DMARD-naïve patients, and after DMARD- and TNFi-failure. Randomised comparisons demonstrate superiority of tocilizumab in JIA, but not ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Other indications are currently investigated. Additional IL-6i show similar efficacy; safety generally appears acceptable.
IL-6i is effective and safe in RA and JIA, but not in AS. Preliminary results in other indications need substantiation.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis; Treatment; DMARDs (biologic)
As long-term treatment with antitumour necrosis factor (TNF) drugs becomes accepted practice, the risk assessment requires an understanding of anti-TNF long-term safety. Registry safety data in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are available, but these patients may not be monitored as closely as patients in a clinical trial. Cross-indication safety reviews of available anti-TNF agents are limited.
To analyse the long-term safety of adalimumab treatment.
This analysis included 23 458 patients exposed to adalimumab in 71 global clinical trials in RA, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis (AS), psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis (Ps) and Crohn's disease (CD). Events per 100 patient-years were calculated using events reported after the first dose through 70 days after the last dose. Standardised incidence rates for malignancies were calculated using a National Cancer Institute database. Standardised death rates were calculated using WHO data.
The most frequently reported serious adverse events across indications were infections with greatest incidence in RA and CD trials. Overall malignancy rates for adalimumab-treated patients were as expected for the general population; the incidence of lymphoma was increased in patients with RA, but within the range expected in RA without anti-TNF therapy; non-melanoma skin cancer incidence was raised in RA, Ps and CD. In all indications, death rates were lower than, or equivalent to, those expected in the general population.
Analysis of adverse events of interest through nearly 12 years of adalimumab exposure in clinical trials across indications demonstrated individual differences in rates by disease populations, no new safety signals and a safety profile consistent with known information about the anti-TNF class.
To determine the sensitivity to change of the US7 score among RA patients under various therapies and to analyze the effect of each therapeutic option over 1 year. To estimate predictors for development of destructive bone changes.
Musculoskeletal ultrasound (US7 score), DAS28, CRP and ESR were performed in 432 RA patients at baseline and after 3, 6 and 12 months. The cohort was divided into four sub-groups: first-line DMARDs (Group 1; 27.3%), therapy switch: DMARDs to second DMARDs (Group 2; 25.0%), first-line biologic after DMARDs therapy (Group 3; 35.4%) and therapy change from biologic to second biologic (Group 4; 12.3%).
The US7 synovitis and tenosynovitis sum scores in grey-scale (GSUS) and power Doppler ultrasound (PDUS) as well as ESR, CRP decreased significantly (p<0.05) after 12 months in group 1 to 3. Group 1+2 also illustrated a significant change of DAS28 after 1 year (p<0.001). Only in Group 4, the US7 erosion sum score decreased significantly from 4.3 to 3.6 (p=0.008) after 1 year. Predictors capable of forecasting US erosions after one year were: higher score of US7 synovitis (p<0.001), of US7 erosions in GSUS (p<0.001), as well as of DAS28 (p<0.001) at baseline.
The comparable developments of the US7 score with clinical and laboratory data illustrates its potential to reflect therapeutic response. Therefore, the novel US7 score is sensitive to change. Patients who switched from one biologic to another exhibited a significant decline in erosions after 12 months, while the erosions scores in the other groups were stable.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Ultrasonography; Synovitis; DAS28; TNF-alpha