Docs and R.Ph.s have mixed reactions to upcoming rheumatoid arthritis agents

August 8, 2008

Several biologic agents are expected to be approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in the next few years.

Several biologic agents are expected to be approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the next few years, and a survey of 100 rheumatologists found that many of them are very receptive to prescribing these products. That's the conclusion of a new survey by market research firm Decision Resources. The Waltham, Mass., firm found that many rheumatologists plan to prescribe Roche/Chugai's Actemra (tocilizumab), an interleukin-6 inhibitor, to an estimated 10% of their patients six months after the treatment launches in 2009. Besides tocilizumab, other agents are expected to be launched for RA, including UCB's Cimzia (certolizumab) and Centocor/Schering-Plough/Mitsubishi Tanabe/Janssen's golimumab. Decision Resources said these launches will increase the number of TNF-alpha inhibitors approved for RA from three to five, and nearly half of surveyed rheumatologists said they plan to prescribe three or more TNF-alpha inhibitors before moving to a different class of agents.

In contrast, Decision Resources reported that reactions from pharmacy directors who were surveyed and who work at managed care organizations were more guarded. They varied widely on whether these agents would be added to their formularies and they wanted to see more clinical data before making any judgments.

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