Data from three innovative new studies shows that patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with Abbott Laboratories’ Humira stayed in their jobs longer, had fewer absences and reported greater improvements in work performance.
The results are being presented today at the European League Against Rheumatism congress in Barcelona, Spain, and one of the studies, described by Abbott as groundbreaking and titled PROWD, investigated the effect that therapy with Humira can have on work stability and job loss in patients with early RA. Although the changes in all cause job loss and imminent job loss did not reach significance between weeks 16 and 56, PROWD showed that significantly more patients taking methotrexate alone reported job loss and/or imminent job loss between weeks 0 and 56 compared with those on a combination of adalimumab and methotrexate.
The second study, examining the effect of combination therapy on work performance, demonstrated that treatment with Humira and methotrexate halves the number of missed workdays for both paid workers and homemakers compared to standard treatment, ie methotrexate alone, while the third study revealed that patients taking adalimumab were significantly more likely to work longer periods and continue working compared to patients taking a DMARD (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug). Additionally, patients taking adalimumab were more likely to achieve disease remission.
"While the long-term efficacy, safety and convenience of adalimumab has been widely established, the studies demonstrate early treatment with adalimumab plus methotrexate reduces joint damage, slowing progress of disease and disability, which keeps rheumatoid arthritis patients at work and working longer," said Paul Emery, lead investigator of the PROWD study.
Abbott noted that the results are encouraging, coming as they do on the back of the recent "I want to work…" survey produced by the UK’s National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society which revealed that one in three people with the disease in the UK lose their jobs after developing it and a "staggering" 86% of respondents with the disease experienced or expected barriers to staying in their job. The drugmaker added that treatments that enable people with rheumatoid arthritis to remain in work “will have considerable benefits to individuals…helping them to retain their financial independence, and contribute to wider society – currently a key priority for the UK government”.
In the UK, over half a million people have rheumatoid arthritis which accounted for 9.4 million lost working days, equivalent to £833 million, in lost production in 1999/2000. Abbott added that each year, the total cost of the disease in terms of health expenditure and lost working days is around £3.8-£4.75 billion.