Rheumatoid arthritis patients who were unsuccessfully treated with anti–tumor necrosis factor drugs fared significantly better when treated with a non-TNF biologic than with a second anti-TNF drug in a 52-week, randomized, clinical trial of 300 adults.
Overall, 69% of patients who received a non-TNF biologic achieved clinical response, defined as a good or moderate EULAR response at 24 weeks, compared with 52% of patients who received a second anti-TNF drug, wrote Jacques-Eric Gottenberg, MD, PhD, of Strasbourg (France) University Hospital and his colleagues.
Patients were randomized to a non-TNF biologic or a second anti-TNF drug, with the choice of biologic left to the clinician. Patients were assessed at 12, 24, and 52 weeks.
“In addition to the superiority of the non-TNF treatment for the primary outcome at week 24, the non-TNF treatment was associated with a better EULAR response than a second anti-TNF drug at weeks 12 and 52,” the researchers noted. Significantly more patients in the non-TNF group reported low disease activity at 6 months and 12 months, compared with the second anti-TNF group, they added.
A total of 18 patients in the non-TNF group and 13 patients in the second anti-TNF group experienced serious adverse events; the most common were serious infections (in 33% and 77% of the non-TNF and anti-TNF groups, respectively) and cardiovascular events (33% vs. 8%, respectively).
The study was supported by the French Ministry of Health and promoted by Strasbourg University Hospital. Dr. Gottenberg disclosed financial support from AbbVie, Pfizer, and Roche, and personal fees from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck Sharp & Dohme, UCB, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis.
The findings were published online Sept. 20 (JAMA 2016;316:1172-80).