Improving outcomes in tumour necrosis factor a treatment: comparison of the efficacy of the tumour necrosis factor a blocking agents etanercept and infliximab in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis

Panminerva Med. 2006 Jun;48(2):129-35.


Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the differences between infliximab and etanercept, in terms of clinical efficacy and rapidity of action.

Methods: We selected 32 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with an incomplete response to disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and randomly assigned them to etanercept or infliximab. We evaluated the efficacy after 14, 22, 54 weeks of treatment, using the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20, 50 and 70 criteria, and the improvement of quality of life using the Health Assessment Question-naire (HAQ).

Results: After 14 weeks, the 54.4% of patients was considered ACR-responders in the etanercept group, whereas, in the infliximab group, the percentage of responders was 74.4%: infliximab gave better results for the tender joint count and for physician's global assessment. After 22 weeks, no significant difference was present. After 54 weeks, etanercept resulted more effective than infliximab for tender joint count (TJC) value, for visual analogic scale (VAS) for pain score, for global disease assessment value, with 74.4% of patients considered ACR-responders in the group treated with etanercept and 60% in the group treated with infliximab. As regards HAQ, patients in the infliximab group presented higher scores at week 14, but in weeks 22 and 54, patients in the etanercept group showed better results. Therefore, both infliximab and etanercept are efficacious in RA, but infliximab is more efficacious than etanercept in week 14. Vice versa, in week 54 etanercept is the most efficacious drug.

Conclusions: Physicians have 2 weapons in their armamentarium, with the same target but distinct clinical, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Etanercept
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use*
  • Infliximab
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Infliximab
  • Etanercept