Objective: To assess the effects of treatment with rituximab plus methotrexate on patient-reported outcomes in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who experienced inadequate response to anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy.
Methods: Patients with active RA were randomly assigned to rituximab (1,000 mg on days 1 and 15) or placebo. The primary end point was the proportion of patients with an American College of Rheumatology 20% response at week 24. Additional goals were to assess treatment effects on pain, fatigue, functional disability, health-related quality of life, and disease activity by comparing mean changes between groups. The analysis was conducted in the intent-to-treat population. The proportion of patients who achieved the minimum clinically important difference on the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) disability index (DI), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-F), and Short Form 36 (SF-36) was determined.
Results: Rituximab patients had statistically significantly greater pain relief. The FACIT-F showed significantly greater improvement in rituximab patients than placebo patients from weeks 12 through 24. Mean improvement from baseline in functional disability (measured by the HAQ DI) was significantly greater in rituximab patients from weeks 8 to 24. The mean +/- SD change from baseline for the SF-36 Physical Component Score was 6.64 +/- 8.74 for rituximab patients and 1.48 +/- 7.32 for placebo patients (P < 0.0001). The mean change from baseline for the SF-36 Mental Component Score was 5.32 +/- 12.41 for rituximab patients and 2.25 +/- 12.23 for placebo patients (P = 0.0269).
Conclusion: Rituximab produced rapid, clinically meaningful, and statistically significant improvements in patient-reported pain, fatigue, functional disability, health-related quality of life, and disease activity. These effects were sustained throughout the study.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00468546.