Earlier this summer, Dr. Borigini reported about the meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism that took place in Barcelona, Spain June 13-16, 2007. In this post, he follows up with additional information about the research reported during the conference.
The EULAR conference also provided some updates on the other biologic drugs: the T-cell costimulatory inhibitor Orencia, the B-cell depleting antibody, Rituxan, and a new interleukin 6 (IL-6) inhibitor, tocilizumab.
One study examined whether there is a need to delay the start of Orencia for a couple of months so that the patient who has been failing the TNF inhibiting drug does not suffer any toxicity from having both drugs to some extent in his or her system. It was found that there was no difference in side effects if a patient switched immediately from a TNF drug to Orencia. This is certainly worthwhile data, as many patients flare during a so-called washout period.
Another study found that repeated courses of Rituxan do not increase a patient's risk for an adverse event.
Finally, and perhaps most exciting, was a discussion of tocilizumab. In combination with methotrexate it has thus far been associated with a significant improvement in quality of life, physical function, and fatigue. But more research must be done to determine this new drug's effect on x-ray progression, and the long-term tolerability of this drug.
There are many more biologic drugs in the so-called pipeline. And while no one is calling any of these the next "cure", everyone is trying to at least make the patient with rheumatoid arthritis suffer a little less.
Published On: October 15, 2007