Arava Worked in the "Real World"

Psoriatic arthritis patients taking Arava showed improvement

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Arava (leflunomide) is one of the many drugs used to fight inflammation - a central feature of psoriatic arthritis. The drug may appear to work well in a research environment, but how does it fare in the "real world"?

Arava seems to be an effective and safe treatment for psoriatic arthritis patients in a clinical setting, according to a recent study.

In other words, real-world patients benefited from using the drug.

"Seek treatment to control your psoriatic arthritis."

Arava is part of a class of drugs known as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These drugs work by reducing inflammation and slowing the progress of disease.

Frank Behrens, MD, of Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University in Germany, and colleagues wanted to see if Arava was effective and safe in patients with psoriatic arthritis.

A majority of the patients in their study had significant improvements in their psoriatic arthritis.

Out of the 440 patients involved in the study, 380 (86.4 percent) achieved a Psoriatic Arthritis Response Criteria (PsARC) response after half a year of treatment.

PsARC is a measure of disease activity in patients with psoriatic arthritis. The measure includes counts of swollen and tender joints. It also asks patients and doctors to rate how bad the arthritis has been.

The researchers also found that patients taking Arava had significant improvements in pain, fatigue, skin disease, dactylitis (inflammation of an entire finger or toe) and nail lesions.

Over the course of the study, 62 patients (12.1 percent) had 98 harmful drug reactions. Of these reactions, three were serious: two cases of elevated liver enzymes (possible sign of liver damage) and one case of a dramatic rise in blood pressure.

Slightly more than 12 percent of patients stopped taking Arava.

"Leflunomide is an effective and well tolerated option for psoriatic arthritis in daily clinical practice," the authors concluded.

This observational study did not compare treatment with Arava to any other treatment or placebo.

The research was funded by Sanofi-Aventis, the manufacturer of Arava. As such, there could be a potential conflict of interest.

The study was published October 6 in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American Society of Rheumatology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 22, 2012
Last Updated:
October 23, 2012