Objective: To compare the effectiveness of rituximab (RTX) or a second anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who had failed their first anti-TNF and switched to either RTX or a second anti-TNF, in routine clinical practice.
Methods: RA patients were registered with the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register. Response to treatment 6 months after switching was assessed using European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria and improvements in a Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) score (0.22 unit or more). Regression analyses were used to compare EULAR response and improvement in HAQ score between the 2 groups, adjusting for propensity scores.
Results: In total, 1,328 patients were included in the analysis of EULAR response, and 937 patients were included in the analysis of HAQ scores. Six months after switching, 54.8% of patients who switched to RTX were EULAR responders compared to 47.3% of those who switched to a second anti-TNF. A total of 38.4% of RTX patients achieved a clinically important improvement in HAQ score compared to 29.6% in anti-TNF patients. After adjustment using propensity scores, patients who switched to RTX were significantly more likely to achieve EULAR response (odds ratio [OR] 1.31; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.02, 1.69) compared to those who switched to an alternative anti-TNF. RTX patients were also significantly more likely to achieve improvements in HAQ score (OR 1.49; 95% CI 1.07, 2.08).
Conclusion: The results suggest that switching to RTX may be of more benefit than switching to an alternative anti-TNF therapy after failing the first anti-TNF therapy in RA patients.
Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Rheumatology.