(RxWiki News) In many patients, medication can effectively treat psoriatic arthritis. But it is not always wise to keep patients on the same drug dose for too long. After lowering dose, does drug treatment still keep disease at bay?
It may be possible for many patients with early psoriatic arthritis to reach remission (lessening of disease symptoms) by taking Humira (adalimumab).
What's more, these patients may be able to maintain remission after cutting their Humira dose in half.
"Get early treatment for psoriatic arthritis."
In their recent study, Dr. Fabrizio Cantini, of Misericordia e Dolce Hospital of Prato in Italy, and colleagues wanted to see how many psoriatic arthritis patients could maintain remission after their Humira dose was lowered. The researchers then compared these remission rates to those of rheumatoid arthritis patients also taking Humira.
They found that a majority of psoriatic arthritis patients were able to maintain remission after lowering drug doses. Less than one-third of rheumatoid arthritis patients were able to maintain remission after cutting doses.
Neither group experienced any serious side effects.
According to the authors, these findings suggest that halving Humira doses in psoriatic arthritis patients who have reached remission may provide some benefits. These benefits include patient compliance, lower drug costs and fewer risks associated with being exposed to drug treatment.
Before lowering drug doses, 53 of 76 (69.7 percent) psoriatic arthritis patients reached remission after about 5 months. In comparison, 17 of 55 (30.9 percent) rheumatoid arthritis patients reached remission.
After Humira doses were cut in half, 47 of the 53 (88.6 percent) psoriatic arthritis patients maintained remission, while only three of the 17 (17.6 percent) rheumatoid arthritis patients maintained remission.
Symptoms returned after about 4.9 to 11.7 months in six patients with psoriatic arthritis. After three to 11.4 months, symptoms returned in 14 rheumatoid arthritis patients.
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study on psoriatic arthritis patients that demonstrates the sustained [effectiveness] of [Humira] in maintaining remission after halving the dose," the authors wrote.
The success of halving Humira doses suggests two main thoughts, they said. First, none of the patients experienced drug-related side effects, which suggests that lowering doses may reduce the risk of dangerous side effects from long-term drug use. Second, cutting Humira doses in half may lead to savings of more than €1,166 ($1,463) per month.
Despite these positive results, the study size was small. As such, more research is needed to see if these results remain true for larger populations of patients.
The study's authors reported no conflicts of interest.
The study was published in the July issue of Biologics: Targets and Therapy.