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19 May 2014

New, Convenient Treatment Option for Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers Offers Patient Freedom and Control of Disease

A new subcutaneous formulation of RoActemra (tocilizumab) has been launched providing thousands of UK rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with a potentially life-changing treatment option.[1] Patients can now be in control of where and when they have their treatment, giving them freedom to manage the condition convenient to their lifestyle, whether at hospital or at home. This is the first anti IL-6 receptor inhibitor to be available as both subcutaneous and intravenous (IV) formulation, for both combination therapy with methotrexate (MTX) and for use without MTX. RoActemra provides an important treatment option for the third of RA patients that cannot tolerate MTX, as they are almost four times more likely to achieve disease remission from RoActemra (tocilizumab) without MTX, or monotherapy, compared to patients taking the most widely prescribed anti TNF, Humira (adalimumab) without MTX, or monotherapy (39.9% vs 10.5%).[2] 


“Today’s news marks a meaningful step in the management of this chronic condition, of which patient choice is extremely significant,” said Professor Ernest Choy, Professor of Rheumatology, Cardiff Institute of Infection & Immunity. “The versatility that RoActemra now offers is extremely valuable to this patient population who are already burdened with this consuming disease, not to mention the freeing up of precious consulting time for clinicians. Looking to the future, patients and clinicians will work together to make those all-important treatment decisions; RoActemra will be a key player in allowing patients better control of their disease.” 

This positive news was based on data from the Phase III SUMMACTA and BREVACTA studies.[3,4] SUMMACTA showed that the efficacy and tolerability of subcutaneous RoActemra was comparable with the intravenous formulation.[3] In addition, long-term efficacy and reduced progression of joint damage over 48 weeks was demonstrated compared to placebo in the BREVACTA study.[4] With comparable efficacy and tolerability to the intravenous formulation, the addition of the subcutaneous formulation provides clinicians and patients, particularly those unable to take MTX, with more flexibility to choose a treatment method that suits their needs. 

“RA is a debilitating condition which can dominate the lives of sufferers and their families,” said Ailsa Bosworth, Chief Executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. “We welcome this new option which provides greater flexibility and choice for people with RA giving them the freedom to carry on with their day–to-day lives.” 



1. RoActemra (tocilizumab) Summary of Product Characteristics. Available at: Accessed May 2014. 

2. Gabay C et al. Tocilizumab monotherapy versus adalimumab monotherapy for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (ADACTA): a randomised, double-blind, controlled phase IV trial. The Lancet 2013; 381:1541-1550.

3. Burmester G et al. A randomised, double-blind, parallel-group study of the safety and efficacy of subcutaneous tocilizumab versus intravenous tocilizumab in combination with traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (SUMMACTA study). Ann Rheum Dis 2013; 0:1–6. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203523.

4. Kivitz A et al. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Parallel-Group Study of the Safety and Efficacy of Tocilizumab Subcutaneous Versus Placebo in Combination With Traditional DMARDs in Patients With Moderate to Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis (BREVACTA). ACR, November 2012.

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