A phase 3 clinical study of rituximab (Rituxan) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) showed that patients who received 2 infusions of rituximab along with a stable dose of methotrexate experienced a 20%, 50%, and 70% improvement in the number of swollen and tender joints, as compared with a placebo. These percentages correspond to a standard assessment used by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) that measures patients' responses to antirheumatic therapies. The 24-week, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 520 patients with active RA who had not responded well to prior treatment with >1 anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapies. Among those who received rituximab, 51% achieved ACR 20, compared with 18% of placebo patients; 27% achieved ACR 50, compared with 5% in the placebo group; and 12% achieved ACR 70, compared with 1% in the placebo group. The incidence of serious infections was low in both the rituximab and the placebo groups2% and 1%, respectively. Clinicians are encouraged by this trial, because few options currently exist for RA patients who do not respond to anti-TNF therapy.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.
One study linked multiple pregnancies to an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation later in life, and another investigated the association between premature delivery and cardiovascular disease.
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