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      Efficacy of biological agents administered as monotherapy in rheumatoid arthritis: a Bayesian mixed-treatment comparison analysis

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          Biological agents provide an important therapeutic alternative for rheumatoid arthritis patients refractory to conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Few head-to-head comparative trials are available.


          The aim of this meta-analysis was to compare the relative efficacy of different biologic agents indicated for use as monotherapy in rheumatoid arthritis.


          A systemic literature search was performed on electronic databases to identify articles reporting double-blind randomized controlled trials investigating the efficacy of biologic agents indicated for monotherapy. Efficacy was assessed using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20, 50, and 70 criteria at 16–24 weeks. Relative efficacy was estimated using Bayesian mixed-treatment comparison models. Outcome measures were expressed as odds ratio and 95% credible intervals.


          Ten randomized controlled trials were selected for data extraction and analysis. Mixed-treatment comparison analysis revealed that tocilizumab offered 100% probability of being the best treatment for inducing an ACR20 response versus placebo, methotrexate, adalimumab, or etanercept. Likewise, for ACR50 and ACR70 outcome responses, tocilizumab had a 99.8% or 98.7% probability of being the best treatment, respectively, compared to other treatments or placebo. Tocilizumab increased the relative probability of being the best treatment (vs methotrexate) by 3.2-fold (odds ratio: 2.1–3.89) for all ACR outcomes.


          Tocilizumab offered the greatest possibility of obtaining an ACR20, ACR50, and ACR70 outcome vs other monotherapies or placebo.

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          Most cited references 39

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          The PREMIER study: A multicenter, randomized, double-blind clinical trial of combination therapy with adalimumab plus methotrexate versus methotrexate alone or adalimumab alone in patients with early, aggressive rheumatoid arthritis who had not had previous methotrexate treatment.

          To compare the efficacy and safety of adalimumab plus methotrexate (MTX) versus MTX monotherapy or adalimumab monotherapy in patients with early, aggressive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who had not previously received MTX treatment. This was a 2-year, multicenter, double-blind, active comparator-controlled study of 799 RA patients with active disease of < 3 years' duration who had never been treated with MTX. Treatments included adalimumab 40 mg subcutaneously every other week plus oral MTX, adalimumab 40 mg subcutaneously every other week, or weekly oral MTX. Co-primary end points at year 1 were American College of Rheumatology 50% improvement (ACR50) and mean change from baseline in the modified total Sharp score. Combination therapy was superior to both MTX and adalimumab monotherapy in all outcomes measured. At year 1, more patients receiving combination therapy exhibited an ACR50 response (62%) than did patients who received MTX or adalimumab monotherapy (46% and 41%, respectively; both P < 0.001). Similar superiority of combination therapy was seen in ACR20, ACR70, and ACR90 response rates at 1 and 2 years. There was significantly less radiographic progression (P < or = 0.002) among patients in the combination treatment arm at both year 1 and year 2 (1.3 and 1.9 Sharp units, respectively) than in patients in the MTX arm (5.7 and 10.4 Sharp units) or the adalimumab arm (3.0 and 5.5 Sharp units). After 2 years of treatment, 49% of patients receiving combination therapy exhibited disease remission (28-joint Disease Activity Score <2.6), and 49% exhibited a major clinical response (ACR70 response for at least 6 continuous months), rates approximately twice those found among patients receiving either monotherapy. The adverse event profiles were comparable in all 3 groups. In this population of patients with early, aggressive RA, combination therapy with adalimumab plus MTX was significantly superior to either MTX alone or adalimumab alone in improving signs and symptoms of disease, inhibiting radiographic progression, and effecting clinical remission.
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            Therapeutic effect of the combination of etanercept and methotrexate compared with each treatment alone in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: double-blind randomised controlled trial.

            Etanercept and methotrexate are effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis but no data exist on concurrent initiation or use of the combination compared with either drug alone. We aimed to assess combination treatment with etanercept and methotrexate versus the monotherapies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In a double-blind, randomised, clinical efficacy, safety, and radiographic study, 686 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis were randomly allocated to treatment with etanercept 25 mg (subcutaneously twice a week), oral methotrexate (up to 20 mg every week), or the combination. Clinical response was assessed by criteria of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). The primary efficacy endpoint was the numeric index of the ACR response (ACR-N) area under the curve (AUC) over the first 24 weeks. The primary radiographic endpoint was change from baseline to week 52 in total joint damage and was assessed with the modified Sharp score. Analysis was by intention to treat. Four patients did not receive any drug; thus 682 were studied. ACR-N AUC at 24 weeks was greater for the combination group compared with etanercept alone and methotrexate alone (18.3%-years [95% CI 17.1-19.6] vs 14.7%-years [13.5-16.0], p<0.0001, and 12.2%-years [11.0-13.4], p<0.0001; respectively). The mean difference in ACR-N AUC between combination and methotrexate alone was 6.1 (95% CI 4.5-7.8, p<0.0001) and between etanercept and methotrexate was 2.5 (0.8-4.2, p=0.0034). The combination was more efficacious than methotrexate or etanercept alone in retardation of joint damage (mean total Sharp score -0.54 [95% CI -1.00 to -0.07] vs 2.80 [1.08 to 4.51], p<0.0001, and 0.52 [-0.10 to 1.15], p=0.0006; respectively). The mean difference in total Sharp score between combination and methotrexate alone was -3.34 (95% CI -4.86 to -1.81, p<0.0001) and between etanercept and methotrexate was -27 (-3.81 to -0.74, p=0.0469). The number of patients reporting infections or adverse events was similar in all groups. The combination of etanercept and methotrexate was significantly better in reduction of disease activity, improvement of functional disability, and retardation of radiographic progression compared with methotrexate or etanercept alone. These findings bring us closer to achievement of remission and repair of structural damage in rheumatoid arthritis.
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              American College of Rheumatology. Preliminary definition of improvement in rheumatoid arthritis.

              Trials of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatments report the average response in multiple outcome measures for treated patients. It is more clinically relevant to test whether individual patients improve with treatment, and this identifies a single primary efficacy measure. Multiple definitions of improvement are currently in use in different trials. The goal of this study was to promulgate a single definition for use in RA trials. Using the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) core set of outcome measures for RA trials, we tested 40 different definitions of improvement, using a 3-step process. First, we performed a survey of rheumatologists, using actual patient cases from trials, to evaluate which definitions corresponded best to rheumatologists' impressions of improvement, eliminating most candidate definitions of improvement. Second, we tested 20 remaining definitions to determine which maximally discriminated effective treatment from placebo treatment and also minimized placebo response rates. With 8 candidate definitions of improvement remaining, we tested to see which were easiest to use and were best in accord with rheumatologists' impressions of improvement. The following definition of improvement was selected: 20% improvement in tender and swollen joint counts and 20% improvement in 3 of the 5 remaining ACR core set measures: patient and physician global assessments, pain, disability, and an acute-phase reactant. Additional validation of this definition was carried out in a comparative trial, and the results suggest that the definition is statistically powerful and does not identify a large percentage of placebo-treated patients as being improved. We present a definition of improvement which we hope will be used widely in RA trials.

                Author and article information

                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Dove Medical Press
                01 September 2015
                : 11
                : 1325-1335
                [1 ]Rheumatology Unit, San Pietro Fatebenefratelli Hospital, Rome, Italy
                [2 ]Primula Multimedia SRL, Pisa, Italy
                [3 ]Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
                [4 ]MEMOTEF Department, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Alberto Migliore, Rheumatology Unit, San Pietro Fatebenefratelli Hospital, Via Cassia 600, 00189 Rome, Italy, Tel +39 06 3358 2145, Fax +39 06 3325 1424, Email migliore.alberto60@ 123456gmail.com
                © 2015 Migliore et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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