A NEW OPTION ON THE HORIZON FOR DIFFICULT-TO-TREAT ARTHRITIS

A NEW OPTION ON THE HORIZON FOR DIFFICULT-TO-TREAT ARTHRITIS

Around 180,000 Spaniards suffer from rheumatoid arthritis; some 10 per cent of these people do not respond to available treatments (neither traditional nor modern ones). Help could be on the horizon in the form of a new medication, however, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

30% OF THE AFFECTED DOES NOT RESPOND TO THIS TREATMENT

Dr. Federico Díaz, Director of the Research Unit of the Spanish Rheumatology Society, notes around 70 per cent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease which attacks the articulations) respond to traditional medications which have been on the market for over 30 years and which are “old, safe, efficient and cheap.”

However, it is unknown why the other 30 per cent of patients do not respond to these treatments, which can have side-effects and toxicities that force patients to change medication. Within this 30 per cent group, around 20 per cent respond well to second-line biological treatments, which are more expensive and more specific than their predecessors. These drugs are not taken orally; they are administered intravenously or subcutaneously. The remaining 10 per cent of patients, meanwhile, can quell their symptoms with the aid of baricitinib, as established in a study on 527 patients.

The study was carried out to elicit the effect of baricitinib on persons with hard-to-handle arthritis. All participants had rheumatoid arthritis in an active phase at the time of the study; their average age was 56. The patients hailed from 178 hospitals from 24 different countries. They were instructed to take a placebo, 2 or 4 mg of the new medication (in combination with other therapies) for a 24-week period.