Background: Rituximab inhibited structural damage at 1 year in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who had had a previous inadequate response to tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors.
Objective: To assess structural damage progression through 2 years.
Methods: Intention-to-treat patients with one post-baseline radiograph (rituximab n=281; placebo n=187) received background methotrexate (MTX) and were randomised to rituximab (2 x 1000 mg infusions, 2 weeks apart) or placebo; patients were eligible for rituximab re-treatment every 6 months. By week 104, 82% of the placebo population had received > or = 1 dose of rituximab. Radiographic end points included the change in total Sharp score (TSS), erosion and joint space narrowing scores at week 104.
Results: At week 104, significantly lower changes in TSS (1.14 vs 2.81; p<0.0001), erosion score (0.72 vs 1.80; p<0.0001) and joint space narrowing scores (0.42 vs 1.00; p<0.0009) were observed with rituximab plus MTX vs placebo plus MTX. Within the rituximab group, 87% who had no progression of joint damage at 1 year remained non-progressive at 2 years.
Conclusions: Rituximab plus MTX demonstrated significant and sustained effects on joint damage progression in patients with RA and a previously inadequate response to TNF inhibitors.