Combination Therapy Could Slow Rheumatoid Arthritis Progression

November 24, 2014
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

A study from Bristol-Myers Squibb shows a combination of abatacept and methotrexate could help slow the disease progression of rheumatoid arthritis.

A study from Bristol-Myers Squibb shows a combination of abatacept (Orencia) and methotrexate (MTX) could help slow the disease progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The analysis examined biologic and MTX-naïve citrullinated protein-positive (CCP) early moderate to severe RA patients. According to Bristol-Myers Squibb, CCP antibodies are a marker of RA and could contribute to the disease’s progression.

Two factors considered in the study were isotypes, which are related antibody classes, and epitopes, a specific area of an antigen to which an antibody binds, according to Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Patients were either given Orencia, MTX, or a combination of the 2 drugs, and the results showed the 2 drugs worked better together to reduce the CCP isotypes and the number of epitopes over 1 year of treatment.

Throughout 1 year of treatment, 6.7% of patients who took MTX and Orencia experienced a serious adverse event, compared with 12.1% who took only Orencia and 7.8% who took only MTX, according to the study. Meanwhile, 1.7%, 4.3%, and 2.6%, respectively, discontinued the study.

“Important results were seen in CCP-positive patients,” said T.W.J. Huizinga, MD, PhD, of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, in a press release. “The results of our analysis demonstrate that patients who start treatment with a combination of Orencia plus methotrexate in early rheumatoid arthritis may potentially slow disease progression.”