WEDNESDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Adding monthly injections of golimumab to weekly doses of methotrexate helped most people with rheumatoid arthritis, even putting some into remission, two new studies show.
The findings on golimumab, an anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha biologic therapy drug, were scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress of Rheumatology, in Paris.
In the first study, one group of patients taking methotrexate weekly for active rheumatoid arthritis were given either 50-milligram or 100-milligram doses of golimumab via subcutaneous injections, while the rest of the patients received a placebo and methotrexate.
After just 14 weeks, 35 percent of those receiving 50-milligram doses of golimumab and 32 percent of patients in the 100-milligram group achieved remission as measured by Disease Activity Score. Only 13 percent in the placebo group reached remission. These improvements were sustained for six months.
More than two-thirds of the golimumab patients increased their ability to perform routine activities such as arising, dressing, eating, walking, hygiene, reaching and gripping after 24 weeks on the additional drug. Some of the improvements were noticeable after four weeks of the first golimumab injection, and the golimumab patients generally continued to improve over the duration of the study.
Only 39 percent of those in the placebo group showed similar improvement after 24 weeks.
"The data in this study demonstrate that golimumab is beneficial in improving numerous disease parameters, including inducing remission, in patients whose disease was active despite ongoing treatment with methotrexate," lead investigator Dr. Edward Keystone, director of the Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis and Autoimmune Disease at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said in prepared statement. "Since some patients do not respond adequately to methotrexate alone, this combination therapy could prove to be a highly valuable treatment option based on these results."
In the second study, rheumatoid arthritis patients who had never taken methotrexate were treated with that drug and either 50 milligrams or 100 milligrams of golimumab. These patients also experienced a lessening of the signs and symptoms of arthritis as well as in disease activity, with 38 percent of those receiving the two drugs experiencing a 50 percent drop in signs and symptoms of RA after 24 weeks. Just 29 percent of those receiving a placebo plus methotrexate experienced a similar improvement in their condition.
Thirty-eight percent of patients receiving golimumab meet the remission standard after 24 weeks.
"These data show that treatment with golimumab induces an important depth of response, improving multiple aspects of rheumatoid arthritis and leading to significant decreases in disease activity," study investigator Dr. Roy Fleischmann, chief of the rheumatology division at St. Paul University Hospital in Dallas, said in a prepared statement. "Golimumab is a promising treatment option for multiple patient populations with this chronic and potentially debilitating inflammatory disease."
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about rheumatoid arthritis.