NEW two-year data presented at the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) meeting in Copenhagen show UCB's anti tumour necrosis factor agent Cimzia maintains efficacy in rheumatoid arthritis when used as add-on therapy to methotrexate.

Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) showed improvements in RA symptoms as early as the first week of treatment and early inhibition of progression of structural joint damage in the RAPID 1 trial. Now new results from an open-label extension study to RAPID-1 presented here at EULAR confirm that improvements in RA were sustained for two years in patients maintained on treatment with 400 mg Cimzia every two weeks and methotrexate.

A separate analysis also presented here at EULAR showed that patients whose symptoms were controlled as early as six weeks had significantly better control of symptoms after a year of treatment compared to patients whose symptoms responded later at 12 weeks.

RAPID 1 Lead investigator Professor Edward Keystone, of Mount Sinai Hospital Toronto, said: "These data confirm the rapid and sustained effect of Cimzia in providing effective and clinically meaningful relief of rheumatoid arthritis and reducing disease progression". He added the data provide evidence for rheumatologists of the value of using a treatment that works rapidly to gain an early response that translates into better outcomes for patients. “Rheumatologists want to control inflammation early to help minimise long-term disease activity and damage," said Prof Keystone.

UCB's Olav Hellebo, senior vice president Immunology, told PharmaTimes World News: "There's no point giving a fast medicine unless the benefits last and this new data confirms Cimzia provides a sustained clinical response".

Cimzia is the first and only PEGylated type of anti-TNF agent. The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved the drug for the treatment of adult patients with moderately to severely active RA. UCB submitted a marketing authorisation application to the European Medicines Agency in June 2008 for the approval of Cimzia in combination with methotrexate for treating moderate to severe RA in adults who have inadequate response to disease-modifying therapy, and according to Hellebo: “We expect approval and launch of Cimzia by the end of this year.”

Rhonda Siddall