Objectives To compare the effectiveness of rituximab versus an alternative tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor (TNFi) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with an inadequate response to one previous TNFi.
Methods SWITCH-RA was a prospective, global, observational, real-life study. Patients non-responsive or intolerant to a single TNFi were enrolled ≤4 weeks after starting rituximab or a second TNFi. Primary end point: change in Disease Activity Score in 28 joints excluding patient's global health component (DAS28-3)–erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) over 6 months.
Results 604 patients received rituximab, and 507 an alternative TNFi as second biological therapy. Reasons for discontinuing the first TNFi were inefficacy (n=827), intolerance (n=263) and other (n=21). A total of 728 patients were available for primary end point analysis (rituximab n=405; TNFi n=323). Baseline mean (SD) DAS28-3–ESR was higher in the rituximab than the TNFi group: 5.2 (1.2) vs 4.8 (1.3); p<0.0001. Least squares mean (SE) change in DAS28-3–ESR at 6 months was significantly greater in rituximab than TNFi patients: −1.5 (0.2) vs −1.1 (0.2); p=0.007. The difference remained significant among patients discontinuing the initial TNFi because of inefficacy (−1.7 vs −1.3; p=0.017) but not intolerance (−0.7 vs −0.7; p=0.894). Seropositive patients showed significantly greater improvements in DAS28-3–ESR with rituximab than with TNFi (−1.6 (0.3) vs −1.2 (0.3); p=0.011), particularly those switching because of inefficacy (−1.9 (0.3) vs −1.5 (0.4); p=0.021). The overall incidence of adverse events was similar between the rituximab and TNFi groups.
Conclusions These real-life data indicate that, after discontinuation of an initial TNFi, switching to rituximab is associated with significantly improved clinical effectiveness compared with switching to a second TNFi. This difference was particularly evident in seropositive patients and in those switched because of inefficacy.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- DMARDs (biologic)
- B cells
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