Reducing or Maintaining the Dose of Subcutaneous Tocilizumab in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis in Clinical Remission: A Randomized, Open-Label Trial

Arthritis Rheumatol. 2019 Oct;71(10):1616-1625. doi: 10.1002/art.40905. Epub 2019 Sep 24.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of increasing the dose interval of subcutaneous tocilizumab (TCZ-SC) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who are in clinical remission.

Methods: RA patients with active disease and an inadequate response to conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (csDMARDs) or to a biologic agent were entered into a single-arm treatment phase with 162 mg of TCZ-SC administered once weekly (TCZ-SC 162 mg qw) as monotherapy or in combination with a csDMARD for 24 weeks. Patients who achieved clinical remission at weeks 20 and 24 were randomized to continue with the same regimen or to switch to 162 mg TCZ-SC administered every 2 weeks (TCZ-SC 162 mg q2w) for 24 weeks (open-label). Patients with a Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) of <2.6 were considered to be in clinical remission.

Results: In total, 179 (45%) of 401 patients in the single-arm phase achieved clinical remission and were randomized to continue to receive TCZ-SC 162 mg qw (n = 89) or to switch to TCZ-SC 162 mg q2w (n = 90) for 24 weeks. At week 48, significantly more patients treated with TCZ-SC 162 mg qw remained in clinical remission compared to patients who received TCZ-SC 162 mg q2w (90% versus 73%; P = 0.004). The results of other efficacy measures revealed greater efficacy with TCZ-SC 162 mg qw, but none of the efficacy outcomes in this group were significantly different from those in patients treated with TCZ-SC 162 mg q2w, except for the mean change from baseline in the DAS28 score at week 48 (mean change -4.07 points [SD 1.29] versus -3.65 points [SD 1.35]; P = 0.034). Tolerability and safety parameters were similar between the treatment groups.

Conclusion: Increasing the dose interval of TCZ-SC in patients with RA was associated with a lower likelihood of maintaining remission after 24 weeks and was not associated with better tolerability. However, most patients were able to sustain remission with a half-dose of TCZ-SC, and therefore this strategy deserves further investigation.

Trial registration: NCT01995201.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / administration & dosage*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Maintenance Chemotherapy / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Remission Induction
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • tocilizumab

Associated data

  • EudraCT/2013‐002429‐52