Humira Works for Spondyloarthritis

Humira provided reduced inflammation and improved quality of life for non radiographic axial spondyloarthritis patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used often to treat axial spondyloarthritis - a type of spinal arthritis. When these drugs don't work, doctors and patients have to find another option.

Within 12 weeks of starting treatment with Humira (adalimumab), patients with non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis had improved symptoms.

"Ask your doctor which arthritis drug is right for you."

Axial spondyloarthritis includes ankylosing spondylitis and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis. In ankylosing spondylitis, inflammation can be seen on an x-ray. In non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, inflammation can be seen only via MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging.

Joachim Sieper, MD, of Charité University in Berlin, and colleagues recently found that Humira (manufactured by Abbott Laboratories) may be an effective drug for those spondyloarthritis patients without a good response to NSAIDs.

In their study, the researchers wanted to see how many patients could achieve ASAS40 (40 percent improvement in spondyloarthritis symptoms) by week 12 of taking Humira.

Of the 91 patients assigned to take Humira, 36 percent achieved ASAS40 by week 12. In comparison, 15 percent of the 94 patients taking placebo achieved ASAS40.

Patients taking Humira also had improved quality of life and reduced inflammation in the spine and sacroiliac joints (pelvic joints). As all of the study's participants had non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, these improvements in inflammation could only be seen using MRI.

Patients had a better response to Humira if they had the disease for a shorter amount of time, were younger and had higher levels of C-reactive protein (a sign of inflammation) at the beginning of the study.

Patients also had a better response if they started the study with a higher SPARCC MRI sacroiliac joint score - a measure of inflammation in the sacroiliac joints.

"In patients with non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, [Humira] treatment resulted in effective control of disease activity, decreased inflammation and improved quality of life compared with placebo," the authors concluded.

The study was supported by Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Humira. Two of the study's authors were employees of Abbott Laboratories. Other researchers involved in the study reported receiving support from drug companies including Abbott, Merck, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Lilly among others.

The research was published July 7 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

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Review Date: 
July 14, 2012
Last Updated:
January 16, 2013