Arthritis Today—December 2, 2014
Several studies presented at this year's American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Meeting in Boston suggest that an experimental drug called secukinumab may offer patients with ankylosing spondylitis – a type of autoimmune, inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine and pelvis - a much-needed alternative for symptom relief.
As AS progresses, new bone may form and fuse in the spine, a process called ankylosis, which can severely restrict range of motion. "In a worse-case scenario, the spine turns into a rigid pipe," says rheumatologist Susan Goodman, assistant director of the Inflammatory Arthritis Center at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
After four months of treatment, patients given the placebo infusions showed little or no improvement, while those receiving either dose of secukinumab had improved significantly; their BASDAI scores dropped more than two points, on average. Secukinumab users were somewhat more likely to experience side effects, such as a drop in white blood cells, which could increase the risk for infections.
However, Dr. Goodman, who has followed research on secukinumab closely, says the drug appears to be about as safe as widely-used TNF inhibitors. If and when secukinumab is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (Novartis plans to seek approval in 2015), Dr. Goodman says she's ready to prescribe it.
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