Cohen SB, Emery P, Greenwald MW, Dougados M, Furie RA, Genovese MC et al.Rituximab for rheumatoid arthritis refractory to anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy: Results of a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase III trial evaluating primary efficacy and safety at twenty-four weeks. Arthritis Rheum 54:2793-2806

Radiant Research, Dallas, Texas 75235, USA.
Arthritis & Rheumatology (Impact Factor: 7.76). 09/2006; 54(9):2793-806. DOI: 10.1002/art.22025
Source: PubMed


To determine the efficacy and safety of treatment with rituximab plus methotrexate (MTX) in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who had an inadequate response to anti–tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapies and to explore the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of rituximab in this population.
We evaluated primary efficacy and safety at 24 weeks in patients enrolled in the Randomized Evaluation of Long-Term Efficacy of Rituximab in RA (REFLEX) Trial, a 2-year, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase III study of rituximab therapy. Patients with active RA and an inadequate response to 1 or more anti-TNF agents were randomized to receive intravenous rituximab (1 course, consisting of 2 infusions of 1,000 mg each) or placebo, both with background MTX. The primary efficacy end point was a response on the American College of Rheumatology 20% improvement criteria (ACR20) at 24 weeks. Secondary end points were responses on the ACR50 and ACR70 improvement criteria, the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints, and the European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria at 24 weeks. Additional end points included scores on the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy–Fatigue (FACIT-F), Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) Disability Index (DI), and Short Form 36 (SF-36) instruments, as well as Genant-modified Sharp radiographic scores at 24 weeks.
Patients assigned to placebo (n = 209) and rituximab (n = 311) had active, longstanding RA. At week 24, significantly more (P < 0.0001) rituximab-treated patients than placebo-treated patients demonstrated ACR20 (51% versus 18%), ACR50 (27% versus 5%), and ACR70 (12% versus 1%) responses and moderate-to-good EULAR responses (65% versus 22%). All ACR response parameters were significantly improved in rituximab-treated patients, who also had clinically meaningful improvements in fatigue, disability, and health-related quality of life (demonstrated by FACIT-F, HAQ DI, and SF-36 scores, respectively) and showed a trend toward less progression in radiographic end points. Rituximab depleted peripheral CD20+ B cells, but the mean immunoglobulin levels (IgG, IgM, and IgA) remained within normal ranges. Most adverse events occurred with the first rituximab infusion and were of mild-to-moderate severity. The rate of serious infections was 5.2 per 100 patient-years in the rituximab group and 3.7 per 100 patient-years in the placebo group.
At 24 weeks, a single course of rituximab with concomitant MTX therapy provided significant and clinically meaningful improvements in disease activity in patients with active, longstanding RA who had an inadequate response to 1 or more anti-TNF therapies.

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Available from: Paul Emery, Sep 23, 2014
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    • "In brief, NICE recommends switching between biologic drugs when the first agent (usually an anti-TNFα agent) is associated with an inadequate response or poor tolerability, based on evidence derived primarily from observational studies. Furthermore, a growing body of evidence from randomised controlled trials indicates that the non-TNFα biologic drugs are more effective than placebo in patients with an inadequate response to at least one anti-TNFα agent [7–9, 18]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Biologic drugs are expensive treatments used in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Switching among them is common practice in patients who have had an inadequate response or intolerable adverse events. The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) UK, which aims to curtail postcode prescribing, has provided guidance on the sequential prescription of these drugs. This study sought to evaluate the extent to which rheumatology centres across the Midlands were complying with NICE guidance on the switching of biologic drugs in RA, as well as analyse the various prescribing patterns of these drugs. Methods Data was collected via a web-based tool on RA patients who had undergone at least one switch of a biologic drug during 2011. The standards specified in NICE technology appraisals (TA130, TA186, TA195, TA198, and TA225) were used to assess compliance with NICE guidance. Descriptive statistical analysis was performed. Results There were 335 biologic drug switches in 317 patients. The most common reason given for switching to a drug was NICE guidelines (242, 72.2%), followed by Physician's choice (122, 33.4%). Lack of effect was the most common reason for discontinuing a drug (224, 67%). For patients on Rituximab, Methotrexate was used in 133 switches (76.9% of the time). Overall NICE compliance for all units was 65% (range 50 to 100%), with anti-TNFα to anti-TNFα switches for inefficacy making up the majority of non-compliant switches. Conclusion This study draws attention to the enigma and disparity of commissioning and prescribing of biologic drugs in RA. Currently the evidence would not support switching of a biologic drug for non-clinical purposes such as economic pressures. Flexibility in prescribing should be encouraged: biologic therapy should be individualised based on the mode of action and likely tolerability of these drugs. Further work should focus on the evidence for using particular sequences of biologic drugs.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
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    • "The concept of the ‘window of opportunity’ supports that early agressive treatment can significantly change the long-term course of the disease, resulting in higher clinical response rates, less disability and less erosive damage [7,8]. Biological agents have proven to be effective in patients responding insufficiently to MTX in randomised controlled trials (RCTs), not only in reducing disease activity and improving functional status, but in slowing radiological progression [9-15]. Monoclonal antibodies against TNF including adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab, and lately the interleukin-6 receptor inhibitor tocilizumab and anti-CD20 rituximab prevented joint destruction even in patients failing to show a clinical response to MTX monotherapy [16-20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoinflammatory joint disease which leads to the destruction of joints and disability of the patients. Anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) drugs can halt radiological progression better than conventional DMARDs even in clinical non-responders. Methods: The efficacy of anti-TNF plus methotrexate (MTX) treatment versus MTX monotherapy on clinical and radiological outcomes were compared in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in clinical practice by retrospective analysis of an observational cohort.49 early RA patients (group A) on first-line MTX monotherapy and 35 early RA patients (group B) on anti-TNF plus MTX treatment were selected from an observational cohort and evaluated retrospectively focusing on their first twelve months of treatment. Data on disease activity (DAS28) and functional status (HAQ-DI) were collected three monthly. One-yearly radiological progression was calculated according to the van der Heijde modified Sharp method (vdHS). Clinical non-responder patients in both groups were selectively investigated from a radiological point of view. Results: Disease activity was decreased and functional status was improved significantly in both groups. One-yearly radiological progression was significantly lower in group B than in group A. The percentage of patients showing radiological non-progression or rapid radiological progression demonstrated a significant advantage for group B patients. In addition non-responder patients in group B showed similar radiological results as responders, while a similar phenomenon was not observed in patients in group A. Conclusions: Clinical efficacy within our study was similar for tight-controlled MTX monotherapy as well as for combination treatment with anti-TNF and MTX. However MTX monotherapy was accompanied by more rapid radiological progression and less radiological non-progression. Anti-TNF plus MTX decreased radiological progression even in clinical non-responders supporting the advantage of anti-TNF plus MTX combination in dissociating clinical and radiological effects.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
    • "Rituximab 375 mg/m2 administered as an IV infusion, once a week either singly or combined with other chemotherapy regimens, is the dosage recommended for one of the two US FDA approved indications, that is, NHL.[24] For the other USFDA-approved indication, that is, RA, the recommended dosage guidelines is 1000 mg given at the interval of 2 weeks apart (day 1 and day 15).[252627] "
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    ABSTRACT: Rituximab is a monoclonal therapeutic anti-CD20 antibody that has been approved for use in lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. Over the past decade several reports based on case series and observational studies have recorded the benefits of rituximab in particular groups of dermatological patients. Off-label use of rituximab in many dermatological indications is not uncommon in many countries in the world. This article reviews the available data that may be of use to the practicing dermatologist. Because of its potential complications, paucity of clinical data, and cost considerations, rituximab is favoured only when standard systemic therapies fail or corticosteroids are absolutely contraindicated. Further research is required in this field.
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