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Tocilizumab effective for rheumatoid arthritis when methotrexate insufficient

Reuters Health • The Doctor's Channel Daily Newscast

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The IL-6 receptor-blocking monoclonal antibody tocilizumab inhibits joint damage in patients with rheumatoid arthritis that is not adequately controlled with methotrexate, according to study results reported in the November 19th online issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

In January this year, the US Food and Drug Administration approved tocilizumab (Actemra/RoActemra; Roche), a first-in-class biologic therapy for moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis.

In the current study, Dr. Joel L. Kremer at Albany Medical College, New York, and colleagues assessed the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab plus methotrexate versus methotrexate alone in preventing structural joint damage and improving physical function in 1196 patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and inadequate responses to methotrexate.

The participants received placebo or tocilizumab at either 8 or 4 mg/kg every 4 weeks, plus methotrexate. After 1 year, the mean change in a standardized joint damage score was 0.29 with tocilizumab 8 mg/kg plus methotrexate, 0.34 with tocilizumab 4 mg/kg plus methotrexate, and 1.13 with placebo plus methotrexate (p<0.0001 for both comparisons), the results indicate.

Put another way,