VIENNA, June 13 -- Three drugs, two approved and one in the pipeline, are improving care for patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) according to clinicians here.
The three agents -- rituximab (Rituxan), abatacept (Orencia), and toclizumab (Acterma) -- all reduce signs and symptoms of RA, improve physical function and health status, and slow joint damage progression, said Josef S. Smolen, M.D., of the Medical University of Vienna, and colleagues.
The heterogeneity of the disease is one of the reasons why no single therapy is effective for all patients or for one patient at all times, the authors wrote in a review article published in the online edition of The Lancet.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs such as the anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) agents etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), and adalimumab (Humira), in combination with methotrexate, have significant anti-inflammatory and joint-protecting activity, they noted.
Yet, they noted, the combination of a TNF antagonist and methotrexate is better at protecting against radiographically confirmed progression of joint damage in patients with low disease activity than in patients with highly active disease.