The results of a recently published clinical study have demonstrated that both Rituxan® (rituximab) and tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi) are equally and highly effective for the treatment of early, active rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Currently, most physicians use a TNFi as initial biologic treatment following failure of methotrexate. Rituxan is commonly used in the management of RA later in the disease course and the current study examined whether or not Rituxan would be clinically non-inferior and less expensive compared to a TNFi.
A 12 month clinical trial directly compared 295 active RA patients, enrolled over a 4 year period. Patients received either Rituxan or Humira® (adalimumab), a widely utilized TNFi. The 12 month changes in disease activity score were similar for both treatments, however serious adverse events were slightly higher in the Rituxan group (n=37) compared to patients receiving TNFi (n=26).
Rituxan was significantly less expensive than the TNFi and the results of the study suggest that in addition to being less costly, Rituxan offers patients with RA another treatment option early in their disease course. When considering the differences among RA patients, having another option provided both patients and their physicians with increased flexibility in their management.
Reference: Porter D, van Melckebeke J, Dale J, Messow C, et al. Tumour necrosis factor inhibition versus rituximab for patients with rheumatoid arthritis who require biological treatment (ORBIT): an open-label, randomised controlled, non-inferiority, trial. The Lancet. Volume 388, No. 10041, p239–247, 16 July 2016.