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Rituxan Effective in Refractory Rheumatoid Arthritis

Response to treatment 6 months after switching was assessed using European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria and improvements in a Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) score. The study results were announced on July 31 and were published in the August issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

A total of 1,328 patients with refractory RA were included in the analysis of EULAR response, and 937 patients were included in the analysis of HAQ scores. Six months after switching, 55% of patients who received rituximab were EULAR responders compared with 47% of those who switched to a second anti-TNF drug. Similarly, 38% of rituximab-treated patients achieved a clinically important improvement in their HAQ scores compared with 30% of the anti-TNF patients.

In the rituximab-treated group, 17% had a “good” EULAR response; 38% had a “moderate” response; and 45% were nonresponders. Corresponding rates in the alternate anti-TNF group were 14%, 34%, and 53%, the researchers reported.

The investigators concluded that the patients who switched to rituximab were significantly more likely to achieve a EULAR response (odds ratio [OR], 1.31; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.02–1.69) compared with those who switched to an alternative anti-TNF treatment. Patients who switched to rituximab were also significantly more likely to achieve improvements in their HAQ scores (OR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.07–2.08).

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