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Abatacept Helps Methotrexate-Resistant RA

Abatacept retards radiographic progression in rheumatoid arthritis patients

FRIDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- Abatacept (Orencia) can reduce disease activity and retard radiographic progression in patients who have active rheumatoid arthritis despite treatment with methotrexate, according to a study published in the June 20 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine .

Joel M. Kremer, M.D., of the Center for Rheumatology in Albany, N.Y., and colleagues conducted a one-year trial of 652 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis while being treated with methotrexate.

The patients who received a once monthly infusion of abatacept showed greater improvements in the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis compared with patients taking placebo. Joint damage among patients in the abatacept group progressed at half the rate of those in the placebo arm. Pre-specified serious infections occurred in 2.5 percent of abatacept users and 0.9 percent of those taking placebo. Participants in both groups experienced a similar rate of adverse events.

Abatacept seems to be a rational and effective treatment strategy for patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have an inadequate response to weekly methotrexate, the researchers conclude.

In an editorial, Maarten Boers, M.D., Ph.D., of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, points out that "we don't know how well abatacept will do in practice compared with other alternatives."

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