Rheumatoid arthritis patients with interstitial lung disease appear to improve their chance of survival if treated with Rituxan rather than TNF blockers, according to study results reported by the British Society for Rheumatology and MedpageToday.com. Results showed a four-fold reduction in respiratory mortality in patients treated with Rituxan compared to TNF blockers.
Pulmonary complications of rheumatoid arthritis are not uncommon. Histological evidence from post-mortem exams show 40-50% of rheumatoid arthritis patients with evidence of fibrosis. Radiological evidence of fibrosis has been found in about 25% of patients.
The aforementioned study involved 188 patients and while the findings involved small numbers, those numbers were considered statistically significant. It was an observational study and not a controlled trial though. A prospective, controlled trial to confirm the findings would be needed.
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