Studies Back New RA Drug
Researchers Say Actemra May Help Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Study
The juvenile idiopathic arthritis trial included 56 children in Japan who
had tried other drugs to treat their arthritis.
First, all of the children got three doses of Actemra every two weeks for
six weeks. Then 43 kids whose arthritis had improved with Actemra treatment
kept getting Actemra; all in all, they took Actemra for four months.
Actemra trumped the placebo and "might be a suitable treatment in the
control of this disorder, which has so far been difficult to manage," write
Yokohama City University's Shumpei Yokota, MD, and colleagues.
Adverse events were typical of other biologic drugs and included upper
respiratory-tract infections and stomach flu. Anaphylactic allergic reactions
and increases in liver enzyme levels were rarer.
The study was funded by Chugai Pharmaceutical Co.
Expert: Head-to-Head Trials Needed
Editorialist Tim Bongartz, MD, who works at the Mayo Clinic College of
Medicine in Rochester, Minn., writes that he is "excited about the ongoing
expansion of therapeutic options for rheumatoid arthritis and, especially,
systemic [juvenile idiopathic arthritis]."
But he cautions that the evidence doesn't show how Actemra's risks and
benefits stack up against other treatment choices.
"In an ideal world, comparative trials of new drugs with other effective
treatments, powered to detect important safety and efficacy endpoints, would
provide this information, which I regard as essential," writes
"It is not clear that these trials will be available before the likely
approval of tocolizumab [Actemra], and it may be up to investigators to
initiate the head-to-head comparisons needed to address these issues," adds