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Carol Eustice

Actemra Monotherapy Superior to Humira Monotherapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

By March 21, 2013

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Researchers assessed the effectiveness and safety of Actemra (tocilizumab) monotherapy compared to Humira (adalimumab) monotherapy. Both Actemra and Humira are biologic drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, but they work differently. Actemra inhibits the interleukin-6 receptor. Humira is a TNF (tumor necrosis factor) blocker. Monotherapy refers to being treated with the drug alone, not in combination with methotrexate.

According to the March 18, 2013 online publication of The Lancet, 163 of 325 rheumatoid arthritis patients were randomly assigned tocilizumab and 162 were randomly assigned adalimumab. At week 24 of the study, it was determined that the tocilizumab group had significantly greater changes in DAS28 scores than the adalimumab group. Researchers concluded tocilizumab monotherapy was more effective than adalimumab monotherapy for reducing the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in patients who could not be treated with methotrexate.

With regard to safety, 12% of the tocilizumab group and 10% of the adalimumab group experienced serious adverse events. Those numbers are consistent with previous reports of adverse events for the two drugs.

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