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European League Against Rheumatism's Annual Meeting, June 13-16, 2007

European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR)

The annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) took place from June 13-16 in Barcelona, Spain. With 12,500 attendees from 100 countries, the meeting highlighted new treatments on the horizon for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune disorders as well as improvements in existing treatments and the best ways to combine such therapies.

There were 3,346 abstracts submitted to the EULAR Congress and only 60 percent were accepted, said EULAR President Tore K. Kvien, M.D., of Diakonhjemmet Hospital in Oslo, Norway. "This reflects the increased quality of scientific programs of the Congress," he said. "There was a huge increase in the quality and quantity of the meeting this year."

Several key sessions focused on documenting inequalities in care, he said. "It's a basic requirement in society that all patients should have some access to a variety of treatment modalities," he said. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in Europe. "Such data makes it easier to fight inequalities."

EULAR also released several sets of guidelines including new recommendations for the use of glucocorticoids, the treatment of vasculitis and the treatment of Behcet's disease.

There were promising data presented on several new rheumatoid arthritis treatments at the meeting including a new tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitor called certolizumab pegol (Cimzia), the RANK ligand inhibitor denosumab, a new B-cell depleting drug called ofatumumab and the interleukin-6 (IL-6) blocker toclizumab.

New data on a modified-release form of prednisone that benefits morning stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis also made waves. "Unfortunately, for osteoarthritis, we have not achieved as much as we have for RA," Kvien said.

Program chair Iain McInnes, Ph.D., of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, said this year's EULAR was "an enormously exciting meeting particularly in lupus, where there are a large number of new treatments being trialed at this time. The lupus pipeline had been relatively barren for a time, but new therapies in the pike now include belimumab (LymphoStat-B) and atacicept.

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