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New Arthritis Drug Slows Development Of The Disease

Posted Jun 18 2009 12:03pm

A new study poses the possibility of using a drug normally reserved for those who are severely disabled in order to treat early stage rheumatoid arthritis.

In the trials the advanced antibody drug, rituximab had significant reduction effects on patients who had only recently developed the disease.

Up to half a million people in the UK are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which involves the body’s immune system attacking the joints.

In the Image trial, headed by Professor Paul-Peter Tak from the University of Amsterdam, 775 people were tested – they had all been recently diagnosed.

Patients received one year of treatment with either methotrexate, a “gold standard” early-stage treatment, and rituximab which was discovered to be three times better at reducing symptoms – to the extent where some patients could be deemed in remission.

Ordinarily patients undergo a standard order of treatments – from painkillers to anti-rheumatic drugs like methotrexate, which slow progression and delay joint damage.

As much as 30.5 per cent of the patients on the methotrexate and rituximab combination, saw a huge reduction in symptoms, compared to 12.5 per cent on the methotrexate only. The cost of a course of treatments on rituximab is priced at around £3,492 – much less than the £12,000 cost of a standard anti-TNF drug.

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