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.