Objective: To evaluate the sustained remission and low disease activity after discontinuation of tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were treated with tocilizumab alone or in combination with methotrexate.
Methods: The SURPRISE study was a 2-year, open-label randomised controlled study. Among patients who had been randomised to additional tocilizumab (ADD-ON) or switch to tocilizumab (SWITCH) in the first year, those who achieved remission based on the disease activity score for 28 joints (DAS28-ESR<2.6) discontinued tocilizumab at week 52 and were observed for the following 52 weeks. The endpoint of the second year included tocilizumab-free remission and low disease-activity rates, functional outcome, radiological outcomes assessed with the modified total Sharp score (mTSS) and safety. The efficacy of reinstituted tocilizumab/methotrexate was also evaluated.
Results: A total of 105 patients who achieved remission at week 52 discontinued tocilizumab; 51 in ADD-ON continued methotrexate and 54 in SWITCH received no disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Sustained DAS28 low disease-activity rates were significantly higher in ADD-ON than in SWITCH (55%vs27%, p=0.005). Sustained remission rates at week 104 were 24% for ADD-ON and 14% for SWITCH (p=0.29). Radiological progression was comparable between both groups (mTSS; 0.37vs0.64, p=0.36). The restart of tocilizumab induced remission in all except two patients after 36 weeks, irrespective of concomitant methotrexate.
Conclusion: Sustained low disease activity after tocilizumab discontinuation could be maintained with continued methotrexate in more than half of the patients. Retreatment with tocilizumab led to remission in more than 90% of patients.
Trial registration number: NCT01120366; Results.
Keywords: dmards (biologic); methotrexate; rheumatoid arthritis.
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