Drug Combo Fights Rheumatoid Arthritis
Study Shows Boost in RA Remission With Enbrel and Methotrexate
July 15, 2008 -- In the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, taking the
drugs Enbrel and methotrexate may make remission
more likely than taking methotrexate alone, a new study shows.
The study, published in The Lancet, included 542 rheumatoid arthritis patients in Europe,
Latin America, Asia, and Australia.
For two years, all of the patients took methotrexate pills. Methotrexate has
long been a cornerstone of rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
The patients also got a weekly injection -- some got shots of the biologic drug
Enbrel; others got a placebo shot.
So far, results are in for the first year of the study.
During that time, half of the patients taking Enbrel and methotrexate had
their rheumatoid arthritis go into remission, compared to 28% of those taking
methotrexate alone. And rheumatoid arthritis at least didn't worsen on X-ray in
80% of the Enbrel-plus-methotrexate group, compared to 59% of those only taking
Side effects were similar in both groups, according to the researchers, who
included Paul Emery, MD, a professor at the University of Leeds in England.
Enbrel is marketed in the U.S. by the drug companies Amgen and Wyeth. Wyeth
funded and designed the study, collected the data, and helped analyze the data,
according to The Lancet.
An editorial published with the study points out that methotrexate
injections might have been more effective than oral methotrexate.
The long-term risks, benefits, and cost-effectiveness of
Enbrel-plus-methotrexate treatment should also be studied, notes editorialist
Joel Kremer, MD, of the Center for Rheumatology at Albany Medical College in