Positive Rheumatoid Arthritis Data for UCB, Trubion, Others

jointpainData presented this weekend at the American College of Rheumatology‘s annual meeting indicated that rheumatoid arthritis patients who adhered to a prescription drug regimen had better medical outcomes and lower medical costs, Reuters reports. The study looked at the medical  and pharmacy claims of RA patients who filled their prescriptions for Humira or Enbrel at either specialty or retail pharmacies between 2006 and 2008. Researchers found that increased adherence was associated with fewer doctor and ER visits, lower medical expenditure, and better clinical outcomes. 

This is encouraging news for several pharmaceutical companies that have recently announced data for their rheumatoid arthritis treatments:

UCB‘s Cimzia demonstrated a rapid, sustained clinical response in patients with moderate to severe RA. Reductions in pain and physical fatigue were seen within the first week of treatment.  Cimzia also inhibited the progression of joint damage up to the 100th week of treatment. Cimzia is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Trubion Pharmaceuticals of Seattle reported that its RA drug candidate TRU-015 improved patient symptoms and was well tolerated in a Phase IIb clinical trial.

Johnson & Johnson’s Simponi was found to be significantly more effective at inhibiting joint damage when combined with the RA treatment methotrexate, compared to methotextrate alone. The Phase III study followed patients for one year. Patients treated with a combo of Simponi and methotextrate had less structural damage such as joint erosion and joint space narrowing. Simponi is designed to block tumor necrosis factor, a protein that causes inflammation. It was approved by the FDA in April.

In similar news, a two-year Phase III study by Genentech found that Actemra used in combination with methotextrate was more effective at reducing joint damage than methotextrate alone. Sixty-five percent of patients who were treated with Acetmra and methotextrate for two years had their RA go into remission.

RA is an autoimmune disorder that leads to inflammation of the joints.  Joint destruction can occur within two years of the onset of RA. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1.3 million people in the U.S. suffer from the disease. RA is the top cause of disability in the U.S, causing severe disability in about 10 percent of sufferers. Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Chelsea Therapeutics, Artielle ImmunoTherapeutics, GenMab, and Planet Biotechnology are some of the other companies developing treatments for this debilitating disease.

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