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.
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.
If you have any questions regarding RA treatment, please consult with your physician.
Published By :
Sep 11, 2018
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