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  1. M. Kamiya1,
  2. D. Togawa1,
  3. S. Mori1,
  4. K. Yamazaki1
  1. 1Nara Hospital, Kindai University, Orthopaedic Surgery and Rheumatology, Ikoma City, Japan


Background: In 20-30% of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, the first biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) (generally tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFis)) is ineffective, and among the patients who do respond to therapy, 20% is faced with secondary ineffectiveness within the first 2 years of treatment [1]. In practice, when refractory RA is present, of which the definition implies previous use of at least two bDMARDs (generally TNFis), the next treatment choice often made is a bDMARD of another class (non-TNFis) [2]. On the other hand, patients who are inadequately responding to bDMARDs need new treatment options because subsequent bDMARD treatment reduces their response [3]. Janus Kinase inhibitors (JAKis) are the first targeted synthetic DMARDs (tsDMARD) licensed for the treatment of RA with comparable efficacy to bDMARDs. Unlike the single cytokine targeting approach of bDMARDs, JAKis are specifically designed to inhibit intracellular signalling molecules common to the receptors of multiple inflammatory cytokines implicated in RA pathogenesis.

Objectives: Difficult-to-treat (D2T) RA is defined as refractory to two or more b/ts DMARDs with different mechanisms of action, with active and progressive disease, as published by Eular(4). We evaluated real world efficacy of approved JAKis and factors that may help to continue them in patients with D2T RA.

Methods: Patients who had inadequate response to two or more bDMARDs (including both TNFis and non-TNFis) at our hospital by December 2019 were defined as D2T RA, and patients who switched to JAKis were retrospectively investigated. The drug retention rate was determined by Kaplan-Meier method, and the difference was tested by Logrank test. Multiple regression analysis was used as the statistical method to predict continuation of JAKis for more than 1 year, with patient background (age, gender, during the disease, number of bDMARDs used, with or without methotrexate and/or glucocorticoids, disease activity score assessing 28 joints using erythrocyte sedimentation rate’ presence of rheumatoid factor/anti-CCP antibody, matrix metalloproteinase 3 value, Health Assessment Questionnaire disability index) at the time of initiation as an explanatory variable.

Results: A total of 915 bDMARDs had been administered to 394 RA patients. The retention rate of bDMARDs and the number of bDMARDs used were 89.3% and 1.48 bDMARDs at 1 year, 67.7% and 2.27 bDMARDs at 5 years, and 52.0% and 3.15 bDMARDs at 10 years, respectively. The retention rate of JAKis at 1 year was 60.2% in 65 patients with tofacitinib (TOF) and 67.2% in 70 patients with baricitinib (BAR) (P=0.38). Among them, the drug retention rate in D2T RA patients was 50.8% in 38 TOF patients and 66.3% in 35 BAR patients with no significant difference (P=0.30). There were no patient background factors that significantly predicted continuation at 1 year for any JAKis.

Conclusion: Despite the limited number of patients and the retrospective nature of the study, TOF and BAR were shown to be effective options for D2T RA, regardless of patient background such as disease activity or number of bDMARDs used. Other JAKis and switches between JAKis need to be investigated in the future.

References: [1]Schaeverbeke T, Truchetet ME, Kostine M et al. Immunogenicity of biologic agents in rheumatoid arthritis patients: lessons for clinical practice. Rheumatology 2016;55:210_20.

[2]Smolen JS, Landewe R, Bijlsma J et al. EULAR recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs: 2016 update. Ann Rheum Dis 2017;76:960_77.

[3]Rendas-Baum R, Wallenstein GV, Koncz T et al. Evaluating the efficacy of sequential biologic therapies for rheumatoid arthritis patients with an inadequate response to tumor necrosis factor-α inhibitors. Arthritis Res Ther 2011;13:R25.

[4]Nagy G, et al. EULAR definition of difficult-to-treat rheumatoid arthritis. Ann Rheum Dis 2021;80:31–35. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2020-217344.

Disclosure of Interests: None declared

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