Roche arthritis drug effective as sole therapy
Zurich, May 26, 2011
Roche's rheumatoid arthritis drug RoActemra helps treat patients with the painful and debilitating disease regardless of whether it is given on its own or in combination with another drug, a late-stage study showed.
The news could boost Roche's bid to bolster its position beyond oncology where it is market leader.
Currently, RoActemra, which is known as Actemra outside of Europe, can be prescribed in combination with older drug methotrexate, or MTX, to treat adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis who respond inadequately to other treatments.
Roche said in a statement up to 40 percent of the patients given older drug MTX which is widely used to treat RA, either did not adequately respond to it or experienced side-effects and needed other drugs to control their inflammation.
"We carry peak sales for RoActemra of 2 billion Swiss francs. The drug is currently approved as second line treatment. Should Roche get approval for first line biologic treatment, we could see a doubling of the peak sales," Vontobel analyst Andrew Weiss said.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive inflammatory disease of the joints and surrounding tissues that is associated with intense pain, irreversible joint destruction and systemic complications such as fatigue and anaemia.
Actemra is the first approved treatment for rheumatoid arthritis that works by blocking receptors to another protein called interleukin-6.
The data from the study, which involved 566 patients with inadequate response to MTX, will be presented at this year's European League Against Rheumatism congress, Roche said. -Reuters