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Posted by on Sep 29, 2018 in Rheumatoid Arthritis | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study investigated the effects of tocilizumab (Actemra) treatment every 6 weeks in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

They found that tocilizumab every 6 weeks maintains low disease activity for most patients. 

Some background

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic (long-term) illness. The aim of RA treatment is to reduce inflammation and pain to the lowest level. This is called low disease activity (LDA).

Tocilizumab (TCZ) is a drug to treat RA. It blocks an inflammatory chemical called interleukin-6 (IL-6). TCZ is administered via intravenous injection. It is usually administered every 4 weeks. There are side effects associated with TCZ treatment. These include hyperlipidemia (high-fat levels in the blood). Some studies suggest that TCZ could be administered at longer intervals in patients with LDA. This might reduce side effects. 

Methods & findings

This study included 125 patients with RA. All patients had LDA. Patients that previously responded well to TCZ every 4 weeks (8 milligrams/kilogram) received TCZ every 6 weeks. After 2 years patients were evaluated again. Patients that responded well to the new regime continued to receive TCZ every 6 weeks. Patients that did not respond well began treatment every 4 weeks again. Disease activity and side effects were evaluated.

65% of patients maintained LDA over 2 years of TCZ every 6 weeks. The number of side effects was significantly lower in patients receiving TCZ every 6 weeks (40.3%) compared to TCZ every 4 weeks (155%). Side effects included fatigue, sickness, and dizziness. IL-6 was reduced in patients taking TCZ every 6 weeks. Triglycerides and cholesterol (fat cells in the blood) were also reduced in these patients.  

The bottom line

This study concluded that TCZ every 6 weeks maintains low disease activity for most patients, with fewer side effects.

The fine print

This study included a small number of patients. Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings.

What’s next?

If you have any questions regarding RA treatment, please consult with your physician.

Published By :

Rheumatology International

Date :

Sep 11, 2018

Original Title :

Efficacy and safety of extending intravenous tocilizumab intervals from 4 to 6 weeks in rheumatoid arthritis patients with good response to 4-week intervals.

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