Anakinra good for rheumatoid arthritis but also risky, says study

January 21st, 2009 - 4:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 21 (IANS) Anakinra may be good for rheumatoid arthritis but a study warns that it also carries potential risks.The chronic inflammatory condition affects as many as one in 100 people worldwide, particularly the joints, making them stiff and painful.

Anakinra is one of a new breed of arthritis drugs licensed in the past decade called ‘biologics.’ The drug is the first to target the immune protein IL-1, thought to be partly responsible for inflammation in arthritis patients. It is given by daily injection.

In a Cochrane Systematic Review of five recent anakinra trials involving 2,876 patients, researchers found anakinra reduced pain and stiffness in patients, and helped to improve joint function, when compared to placebo.

However, while around a quarter of patients experienced improvement in their symptoms as a result of taking anakinra, the researchers said the improvements are notably less than those seen with other biologics.

Besides, there were more injection site reactions with the use of anakinra and the rate of serious infections with anakinra was approaching statistical significance when compared to placebo.

“We would recommend caution with the use of anakinra for rheumatoid arthritis, especially with only modest beneficial outcomes compared to other biologic medications studied for rheumatoid arthritis,” said lead researcher Marty Mertens of the University of Minnesota.

One study included in the review investigated the combination of anakinra with another biologic medication, etanercept. This found no benefits in arthritis outcomes, but did show a significant increase in the number of serious adverse events, said a Minnesota release.

“On the basis of these results, we recommend that doctors avoid combining biologic medications with anakinra when treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis,’ said Mertens.

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