Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is an important proinflammatory cytokine that mediates inflammatory synovitis and articular matrix degradation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We investigated the ability of adalimumab, a human anti–TNF monoclonal antibody, to inhibit the progression of structural joint damage, reduce the signs and symptoms, and improve physical function in patients with active RA receiving concomitant treatment with methotrexate (MTX).
In this multicenter, 52-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 619 patients with active RA who had an inadequate response to MTX were randomized to receive adalimumab 40 mg subcutaneously every other week (n = 207), adalimumab 20 mg subcutaneously every week (n = 212), or placebo (n = 200) plus concomitant MTX. The primary efficacy end points were radiographic progression at week 52 (total Sharp score by a modified method [TSS]), clinical response at week 24 (improvements of at least 20% in the American College of Rheumatology core criteria [ACR20]), and physical function at week 52 (disability index of the Health Assessment Questionnaire [HAQ]).
At week 52, there was statistically significantly less radiographic progression, as measured by the change in TSS, in the patients receiving adalimumab either 40 mg every other week (mean ± SD change 0.1 ± 4.8) or 20 mg weekly (0.8 ± 4.9) as compared with that in the placebo group (2.7 ± 6.8) (P ≤ 0.001 for each comparison). In addition, there were statistically significant changes in the components of the TSS. At week 24, ACR20 responses were achieved by 63% and 61% of patients in the adalimumab 40 mg every other week and 20 mg weekly groups, respectively, versus 30% of patients in the placebo group (P ≤ 0.001 for each comparison). At week 52, ACR20 responses were achieved by 59% and 55% of patients taking adalimumab 40 mg every other week and 20 mg weekly, respectively, versus 24% of patients taking placebo (P ≤ 0.001 for each comparison). At week 52, physical function as measured by the HAQ demonstrated statistically significant improvement with adalimumab 40 mg every other week and 20 mg weekly compared with placebo (mean change in HAQ score −0.59 and −0.61, respectively, versus −0.25; P ≤ 0.001 for each comparison). A total of 467 patients (75.4%) completed 52 weeks of treatment. Adalimumab was generally well tolerated. Discontinuations occurred in 22.0% of adalimumab-treated patients and in 30.0% of placebo-treated patients. The rate of adverse events (both serious and nonserious) was comparable in the adalimumab and placebo groups, although the proportion of patients reporting serious infections was higher in patients receiving adalimumab (3.8%) than in those receiving placebo (0.5%) (P ≤ 0.02), and was highest in the patients receiving 40 mg every other week.
In this 52-week trial, adalimumab was more effective than placebo at inhibiting the progression of structural joint damage, reducing the signs and symptoms, and improving physical function in patients with active RA who had demonstrated an incomplete response to MTX.