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PJ Online | News: Etanercept for treatment of ankylosing spondylitis

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The Pharmaceutical Journal
Vol 268 No 7197 p633-640
11 May 2002

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The New England Journal of Medicine (www.nejm.org)


Etanercept for treatment of ankylosing spondylitis

Treatment with etanercept (Enbrel) results in sustained improvements in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, a new study shows.

Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco randomly assigned 40 patients with active inflammatory ankylosing spondylitis to receive either etanercept 25mg subcutaneously or placebo twice weekly for four months. Patients were allowed to continue taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral corticosteroids and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

At four months, improvements in disease activity (including duration of morning stiffness, degree of nocturnal spinal pain and joint swelling) were seen in 80 per cent of patients treated with etanercept compared with 30 per cent of those treated with placebo. Greater improvements in quality of life were also seen in those treated with etanercept than in those treated with placebo.

Patients who completed the study (19 in the etanercept group and 18 in the placebo group) went on to be treated with etanercept for a further six months. The researchers say that a rapid response to etanercept was seen in the group previously treated with placebo which paralleled that of patients treated with etanercept throughout the 10-month study period.

The researchers conclude: "Our study shows that etanercept alleviates many of the disabling symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis and can be used safely in combination with other anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive agents."

They add that the marked reductions in stiffness, pain and functional limitations with etanercept are particularly promising since these are the primary problems reported and are among the leading causes of disability. The study is published in The New England Journal of Medicine (2002;346:1349).

Etanercept is a human tumour necrosis factor receptor fusion protein. It is a competitive inhibitor of TNF.

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