Intravenous Use of Arthritis Drug OK'd

Remicade can help improve mobility for rheumatoid arthritis patients

THURSDAY, March 14, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- The powerful arthritis drug Remicade (infliximab) has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to be given intravenously.

The intravenous application of Remicade, in combination with another drug, methotrexate, can improve a rheumatoid arthritis patient's mobility and movement, research has shown.

The February FDA go-ahead came after a series of clinical trials over a two-year period. The increase in mobility for the people who took the drug combination was "significant," the study concluded. The tests included 428 people with rheumatoid arthritis.

This press release from Johnson & Johnson (Remicade's parent company) reports the FDA approval and gives details about the clinical trials.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects 2.1 million Americans, mostly women (about 600,000 men have it), and it usually strikes in middle age.

Typically, pain from rheumatoid arthritis begins in the knuckles, wrists and ankles. It's distinguished from osteoarthritis by identifying the joint where the pain begins, usually the one farthest from the fingernail or toenail. Rheumatoid arthritis' cause isn't known, but researchers believe it begins by a breakdown in the body's autoimmune system.

Remicade has also been FDA-approved for the treatment of Crohn's disease, a gastrointestinal ailment.

And while the drug continues to be effective in combatting both arthritis and Crohn's, new research has revealed a possible elevated risk for some patients who suffer from congestive heart disease. This FDA Alert explains the risks.

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