Eli Lilly and Incyte say their investigational JAK inhibitor baricitinib has hit primary goals in a late-stage trial in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

The RA-BEACON study met its primary endpoint in showing a significant improvement in the ACR20 response compared to placebo following 12 weeks’ treatment with the drug, the firms said.

The study looked at the effect of baricitinib in patients with moderately-to-severely active RA who previously failed one or more tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and who were taking stable doses of conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug therapy. 

RA patients who have failed to respond to TNF inhibitors “are generally considered to be the least responsive to subsequent treatments,” noted David Ricks, president of Lilly Bio-Medicines and, while finer details of the data were not provided at this time, he stressed the results “give us confidence” in baricitinib’s potential.

The drug, which is also being tested for psoriasis and diabetic nephropathy, seemed to be well tolerated in the trial as the incidence of serious adverse events, including serious infections, was similar to placebo. 

More detailed data from the study will be presented at scientific meetings next year, the firms said.