Arthritis Drugs & New Medications-2001 Meeting (cont.)

Scientists throughout the world are studying many promising areas of new treatment approaches for arthritis and rheumatic diseases. These areas include monoclonal antibody therapy that is directed against a special inflammation factor called the tumor necrosis factor (TNFalpha) (as described below regarding Remicade and Enbrel), and new TNF human antibodies. Also, new non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), with mechanisms of action that are different from current drugs, are on the horizon. Genetic research and engineering are also likely to bring forth many new avenues of earlier diagnosis and treatment in the near future.

Below are perspectives on key reports presented at the recent national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology:

REMICADE (infliximab)

Remicade (infliximab) is an antibody that blocks the effects of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). TNF-alpha is a substance made by cells of the body that has an important role in promoting inflammation. By blocking the action of TNF-alpha, infliximab reduces the signs and symptoms of inflammation.

Remicade was a topic in over 100 papers presented at the meeting, most of which related to rheumatoid arthritis. Remicade, an approved treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, is given by intravenous infusion every 2 months.

Researchers at this meeting reported Remicade to be effective and safe in treating rheumatoid arthritis. Some reported an 80% significant response rate in the first year of use.

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: This is my experience with this medication, which is very effective in calming the pain, stiffness, and swelling from the inflammation due to arthritis in a high percentage of patients.