Humira: Early Response, Future Success

Ankylosing spondylitis patients who respond early to Humira are likely to have long term remission

(RxWiki News) Doctors want to know if the drugs they prescribe to their ankylosing spondylitis patients are helping. If they are not seeing positive results, they may want to change course as soon as possible.

Ankylosing spondylitis patients may have a better chance of long-term remission (a temporary end to symptoms) if they go into remission soon after starting treatment with the drug adalimumab (sold as Humira).

That is, a quick response to adalimumab may be the best predictor of long-term remission among patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

"Pay attention to how your prescriptions affect you."

In a recent study, Joachim Sieper, M.D., of the University Clinic Benjamin Franklin in Berlin, and colleagues tested the safety and effectiveness of adalimumab treatment in patients with ankylosing spondylitis. The researchers also looked for ways to identify early signs of remission.

They found that ankylosing spondylitis patients with the best chance of remission at one year and five years were those who achieved remission after 12 weeks of adalimumab treatment.

According to the authors, most previous studies on this topic did not consider early response to adalimumab as a possible sign of future success. The current study shows that short-term outcomes can predict future response.

Dr. Sieper and colleagues also point out that their results agree with current guidelines, which recommend that doctors assess treatment response after 12 weeks of treatment.

For their study - which was called the Adalimumab Trial evaluating Long-term efficacy and safety in AS (ATLAS) - 311 patients were assigned to take 40 mg of adalimumab every other week or placebo.

Patients underwent treatment for 24 weeks to five years. The authors say that this long follow-up period is one strength of the study.

The authors also point out the possibility that the results could have been skewed by patients who dropped out of the study because they did not have an early response to adalimumab. It is possible, they write, that these patients might have achieved sustained remission if they stuck with treatment for a longer period of time.

This study is published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Funding for the study came from Abbott Laboratories, the company responsible for the manufacture and marketing of Humira. All of the researchers involved in the study have either received payment from or work for Abbott Laboratories. 

Review Date: 
April 15, 2012