Anakinra for rheumatoid arthritis: A modest benefit with some risk

Jan 21, 2009

New research supports a modest beneficial effect of anakinra for rheumatoid arthritis patients, but warns against potential risks for serious infections and its use with other biologic medications.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting as many as one in 100 people worldwide. It affects 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 say the improvements are notably less than those seen with other biologics.

In addition, 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 the only modest beneficial outcomes compared to other biologic medications studied for rheumatoid arthritis," said lead researcher Dr. Marty Mertens of the University of Minnesota in the US.

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

Dr. Mertens thinks more research is required to better inform patients and doctors about the safety of the drug: "We have only limited data on the safety of anakinra, and need more long-term studies to evaluate this, especially the potential for increased risk of serious infections."

Source: Wiley

Explore further: A look at latest Ebola developments

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Curry spice could offer treatment hope for tendinitis

Aug 09, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A derivative of a common culinary spice found in Indian curries could offer a new treatment hope for sufferers of the painful condition tendinitis, an international team of researchers has shown.

Injectable gel could spell relief for arthritis sufferers

Apr 13, 2011

Some 25 million people in the United States alone suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or its cousin osteoarthritis, diseases characterized by often debilitating pain in the joints. Now researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital ...

Recommended for you

Routines most vital in avoiding Ebola infection: WHO

11 hours ago

Meticulously following stringent routines when putting on and removing protective equipment is more important than the kind of gear health care workers use to ward off Ebola infection, the World Health Organization said Friday.

A look at latest Ebola developments

12 hours ago

No African countries are on the United Nations list of contributors to fight Ebola. With few exceptions, African governments and institutions are offering only marginal support as the continent faces its ...

Liberia opens one of largest Ebola treatment centers

13 hours ago

Remembering those who have died in the world's deadliest Ebola outbreak, Liberia's president opened one of the country's largest Ebola treatment centers in Monrovia on Friday amid hopes that the disease is ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.