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BACKGROUND: Not all patients with rheumatoid arthritis can tolerate or respond to methotrexate, a standard treatment for this disease. There is evidence that antitumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) is efficacious in relief of signs and symptoms. We therefore investigated whether infliximab, a chimeric human-mouse anti-TNFalpha monoclonal antibody would provide additional clinical benefit to patients who had active rheumatoid arthritis despite receiving methotrexate. METHODS: In an international double-blind placebo-controlled phase III clinical trial, 428 patients who had active rheumatoid arthritis, who had received continuous methotrexate for at least 3 months and at a stable dose for at least 4 weeks, were randomised to placebo (n=88) or one of four regimens of infliximab at weeks 0, 2, and 6. Additional infusions of the same dose were given every 4 or 8 weeks thereafter on a background of a stable dose of methotrexate (median 15 mg/week for > or =6 months, range 10-35 mg/wk). Patients were assessed every 4 weeks for 30 weeks. FINDINGS: At 30 weeks, the American College of Rheumatology (20) response criteria, representing a 20% improvement from baseline, were achieved in 53, 50, 58, and 52% of patients receiving 3 mg/kg every 4 or 8 weeks or 10 mg/kg every 4 or 8 weeks, respectively, compared with 20% of patients receiving placebo plus methotrexate (p<0.001 for each of the four infliximab regimens vs placebo). A 50% improvement was achieved in 29, 27, 26, and 31% of infliximab plus methotrexate in the same treatment groups, compared with 5% of patients on placebo plus methotrexate (p<0.001). Infliximab was well-tolerated; withdrawals for adverse events as well as the occurrence of serious adverse events or serious infections did not exceed those in the placebo group. INTERPRETATION: During 30 weeks, treatment with infliximab plus methotrexate was more efficacious than methotrexate alone in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis not previously responding to methotrexate.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Lancet

Publication Date

04/12/1999

Volume

354

Pages

1932 - 1939

Keywords

Adult, Aged, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Antirheumatic Agents, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Chi-Square Distribution, Double-Blind Method, Female, Humans, Infliximab, Infusions, Intravenous, Male, Methotrexate, Middle Aged, Placebos, Remission Induction, Sensitivity and Specificity, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha