Sirukumab in rheumatoid arthritis refractory to sulfasalazine or methotrexate: a randomized phase 3 safety and efficacy study in Japanese patients

Arthritis Res Ther. 2018 Mar 7;20(1):42. doi: 10.1186/s13075-018-1536-9.


Background: Sirukumab, a high-affinity human monoclonal antibody that selectively binds to interleukin-6, has demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in global phase 1 and phase 2 studies. The present study evaluated the safety and efficacy of sirukumab, as monotherapy in Japanese patients with RA refractory to methotrexate or sulfasalazine.

Methods: In this phase 3, double-blind study, 122 patients (age ≥ 20 years) were randomized (1:1, 61 patients in each arm) to sirukumab administered subcutaneously: 50 mg once every 4 weeks (q4w) or 100 mg once every 2 weeks (q2w) through 52 weeks. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs were allowed after 24 weeks. Safety was assessed and efficacy was evaluated using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) responses, Disease Activity Score C-reactive protein (DAS28-CRP) and Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI).

Results: Amongst the 122 randomized patients, 99 (81.1%) patients completed the study. Adverse events (AEs) were reported in 114/122 (93.4%) patients and serious AEs were reported in 9/122 (7.4%) patients. No deaths, major cardiovascular AEs, serious gastrointestinal perforations or tuberculosis cases were reported during this study period. Grade 3 hematologic abnormalities (neutropenia and leukopenia) were reported in seven patients and no grade 4 abnormalities were observed. ACR20 responses were observed within 2 weeks, achieved in 47/61 (77.0%, 50 mg q4w) patients and 44/61 (72.1%, 100 mg q2w) patients at week 16 and maintained through week 52. ACR50/70, DAS28-CRP and HAQ-DI responses were also maintained through week 52 in both groups.

Conclusions: Safety findings were comparable between the two treatment groups. The 52-week administration of sirukumab at 50 mg q4w and 100 mg q2w was generally tolerable and with measurable efficacy in Japanese patients with RA refractory to methotrexate and sulfasalazine.

Trial registration: NCT01689532 . Registered 18 September 2012.

Keywords: Biologicals; Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs; Interleukin-6; Rheumatoid arthritis; Sirukumab.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / ethnology
  • Asians
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Resistance / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngitis / chemically induced
  • Sulfasalazine / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Sulfasalazine
  • sirukumab
  • Methotrexate

Associated data