To evaluate the efficacious noninferiority of subcutaneous tocilizumab injection (TCZ-SC) monotherapy to intravenous TCZ infusion (TCZ-IV) monotherapy in Japanese patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with an inadequate response to synthetic and/or biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
This study had a double-blind, parallel-group, double-dummy, comparative phase III design. Patients were randomized to receive TCZ-SC 162 mg every 2 weeks or TCZ-IV 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks; no DMARDs were allowed during the study. The primary end point was to evaluate the noninferiority of TCZ-SC to TCZ-IV regarding the American College of Rheumatology criteria for 20% improvement in disease activity (ACR20) response rates at week 24 using an 18% noninferiority margin. Additional efficacy, safety, pharmacokinetic, and immunogenicity parameters were assessed.
At week 24, ACR20 response was achieved in 79.2% (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 72.9, 85.5) of the TCZ-SC group and in 88.5% (95% CI 83.4, 93.5) of the TCZ-IV group; the weighted difference was −9.4% (95% CI −17.6, −1.2), confirming the noninferiority of TCZ-SC to TCZ-IV. Remission rates of the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints using the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and the Clinical Disease Activity Index at week 24 were 49.7% and 16.4% in the TCZ-SC group and 62.2% and 23.1% in the TCZ-IV group, respectively. Serum trough TCZ concentrations were similar between the groups over time. Incidences of all adverse events and serious adverse events were 89.0% and 7.5% in the TCZ-SC group and 90.8% and 5.8% in the TCZ-IV group, respectively. Anti-TCZ antibodies were detected in 3.5% of the TCZ-SC group; no serious hypersensitivity was reported in these patients.
TCZ-SC monotherapy demonstrated comparable efficacy and safety to TCZ-IV monotherapy. TCZ-SC could provide additional treatment options for patients with RA.