Drug Treatment Appears to Alleviate Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

LONDON, U.K. — New evidence has emerged about a drug that can alleviate many of the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Such evidence is welcome, since not all patients in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis can respond to methotrexate, the standard treatment for the disease.

In a report published in this week’s edition of The Lancet, Ravinder Maini and colleagues from The Mathilda and Terence Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, London, UK, highlight the efficacy of infliximab, an anti-tumour necrosis factor alpa monoclonal antibody. Researchers have developed monoclonal antibodies to target tumour necrosis factor alpa because there is mounting evidence that this substance has a central role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.

Their results showed that individuals administered a combined dose of infliximab with the established clinical product methotrexate achieved significant alleviation of arthritis symptoms compared with a control group administered methotrexate and a placebo.

428 patients took part in this international study, and on average half of patients given methotrexate and infliximab perceived a 20 percent improvement in their physical well-being compared with one fifth of patients treated with methotrexate and a placebo. Nearly 30 percent of patients given infliximab and methotrexate compared with 5 percent of patients given methotrexate alone reported a 50 percent improvement. All patients’ symptoms were analysed after 30 weeks treatment. Infliximab was also shown to be well tolerated by patients in the study, whereas methotrexate had a history of negative side-effects.

The investigators comment that whilst these results are encouraging “the cost-effectiveness [of this drug] must also await longer-term data evaluating the cost of this therapy and the improvement of quality of life that might follow.”

Source: Doctor’s Guide

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