At the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Convergence, its annual congress, held online November 3–9, 2021, five panels addressed new research concerning rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease of the joints. RA affects 1.3 million Americans and is 2.5 times more common in women, according to Cleveland Clinic. Symptoms include fatigue and pain and stiffness at the joint site.
5 Top Takeaways From the Rheumatology Conference for People With Rheumatoid Arthritis
1. Ultra-Low Dose Rituximab Controls Disease Activity for Most RA Patients
What’s new Rituximab, a monoclonal antibody, is registered for treating RA at the dose of 2×1000 milligrams (mg) per six months. In previous studies, 1×1000 mg or 2×500 mg per six months were equally effective. The new study, an extension of previous studies, found that even lower doses may be effective for many people living with RA.
Research details In a previous study, doses of 200 and 500 mg of rituximab appeared to provide a similar benefit to those of 1,000 mg, but the researchers were unable to prove that statistically. In this extension study, conducted at Sint Maartenskliniek Rheumatism Center in the Netherlands, 118 patients in the previous trial were included with an approximate follow-up of three years. The rituximab dose per infusion was 200 mg in 37 patients, 500 mg in 47 patients, and 1,000 mg in 34 patients. The final interval between infusions was around six months.
Why it matters Patients on ultra-low doses did not do better than those on higher doses in terms of disease activity. But patients on ultra-low doses didn’t do worse, either. The benefits are significant. In the original trial the team found fewer infections in the lower-dose group. “We think it is likely that a lower dose does not suppress the immune system as strongly as higher doses do. This way, the body can fight off pathogens more easily to stop or prevent infections,” says Nathan den Broeder, a PhD student at Sint Maartenskliniek Rheumatism Center in the Netherlands and the study’s coauthor.
Other “less is more” benefits included reduced infusion times and lower treatment costs.
2. Health Benefits of Statins for People With RA Outweigh Increase in Diabetes Risk
What’s new Statins are widely prescribed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by lowering cholesterol. There has been some concern, however, that this class of drugs slightly increases type 2 diabetes risk. A recent study looked at whether this minor increase should be of concern for people with RA who are already at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The result: Statins were associated with important reductions in CVD and all-cause mortality in people with RA, outweighing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Statin use was associated with a 32 percent reduction in CVD, a 54 …….