Skip to content

Actemra Tops Rival in Rheumatoid Arthritis Study

Humira Maker Says Study Finding May Be Biased
Font Size
A
A
A

Patients Saw Greater Improvement on Actemra continued...

Something else patients need to consider, he says, is the way the drugs are given. Humira is a shot patients can give themselves at home twice a month. Actemra requires a monthly visit to a doctor's office for an infusion. That can be challenging for people who can't take time off from work or who have to travel a long way to get to a doctor's office.

Side effects between the two study groups were about equal, researchers say.

Humira Manufacturer Responds

Abbott, the company that makes Humira, said the study results were likely skewed because of the design of the trial, which used the maximum dose of Actemra but the minimum dose of Humira. In the study, 40 milligrams of Humira were given every other week. That same dose can be given weekly. "The results may be biased," says Derin Denham, senior manager of public affairs for Abbott.

Curtis says study participants were allowed to escalate their Humira dose, though they weren't required to.

He says in the real world, most doctors and patients don't opt for a weekly dose of Humira since it doesn't offer much more benefit but doubles the already hefty cost of the drug. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) in Berlin, Germany.

Study Limitations

"The study results are very solid. The numbers here are impressive. But when you get down to the details that patients care about, both patient groups are getting a lot better, but the Actemra group gets a bit better," Curtis says.

"I think some of those intangibles like a twice-a-month injection you can give yourself versus an IV infusion, I think those start to weigh in," he says.

The other important caveat, Curtis says, is that the study offers no information about how the drugs work when used in combination with other DMARDs, like methotrexate.

"It's always going to be better to use methotrexate with either of these two drugs than to use either of these biologics by themselves," he says.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

rubbing hands
Avoid these 6 common mistakes.
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Four that fight inflammation.
 
mature woman threading needle
How much do you know about these RA myths and facts?
Patients who take the product would get no
This may lead to worsening symptoms.
 
Lucille Ball
Slideshow
Hand bones X-ray
Article
 
prescription pills
Article
Woman massaging her neck
Quiz
 
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Slideshow
Woman rubbing shoulder
Slideshow
 
Working out with light weights
Video
arthritis
Article