Introduction: Rituximab (RTX) is a monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in association with methotrexate (MTX). Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of RTX-MTX combination therapy compared with RTX alone in the treatment of RA. Methods: We analyzed data from a prospective cohort study, the Italian biologic register GISEA, to investigate the efficacy and safety of rituximab. Moreover, the adverse events (AE) and the causes of discontinuation therapy were analyzed. Results: We identified 338 RA patients, 162 treated with RTX and 176 with RTX-MTX. After 52 and 104 weeks of therapy the disease activity score in 28 joints and the Health Assessment Questionnaire Score were available in 168 patients (78 with RTX-MTX and 60 with RTX alone), showing significant reduction without differences among the two groups. AE were reported in 142 patients (42%), for a total of 368 recorded side effects. The majority (90.5%) of AE were mild to moderate in severity. Comparable percentages of severe AE were reported in the 2 groups (9.9% for RTX alone and 9.3% for RTX + MTX). A poor disease control was observed in 14.2% and 13.5% of patients treated with RTX + MTX and RTX, respectively; while 12 patients (4.5% in RTX + MTX, and 2.5% in RTX group) suspended therapy for AE. Conclusions: RTX showed a good efficacy and safety profile in the real-life management of RA patients regardless of the association with MTX.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
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