Abbott Laboratories has presented a host of new data from studies of Humira in rheumatic diseases which demonstrate the long-term efficacy, safety and “work productivity cost savings” that the firm’s anti-inflammatory blockbuster offers.

The first of three trials, which were presented at the European League Against Rheumatism meeting in Paris, saw Abbott unveil seven-year rheumatoid arthritis data which show that treatment with Humira (adalimumab) resulted in clinical remission among long-standing RA patients when used in combination with methotrexate. The seven-year data, a combined analysis of open-label extensions of the ARMADA, DE019, STAR, DE005 and DE037 trials involving 1,469 patients, showed that the percentage of people achieving clinical remission increased “after two or more years of continuous treatment with combination therapy”.

Next up was a Phase III clinical trial called ATLAS, which involved 315 patients who had an inadequate response to at least one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug. The data showed that Humira reduced the signs and symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis for up to three years of treatment among 74% of patients.

Desiree van der Heijde of the Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands and co-lead investigator of ATLAS noted that there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis and the goal of therapy is to relieve back and joint pain. She added that even partial remission of AS (seen in 42% of patients) "can have a considerable positive impact".

Finally, the company presented new data from a 433-patient analysis showed that treatment for early RA with adalimumab and MTX resulted in an indirect cost savings of 4,845 euros per patient per year compared to MTX treatment alone. These savings were attributed to improved work performance, ability to gain or regain employment and a reduction in the number of missed workdays.

The data can only provide a boost to the already-impressive sales of Humira, which is approved for six indications in the USA, ranging from RA to Crohn’s disease and psoriasis. First-quarter revenues for the drug shot up almost 54% to $878 million.