After five years of receiving infliximab (IFX) anti-TNF therapy, 61.8% of patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) showed substantial clinical benefit (ASAS40, ASsessment in AS, 40-response) and 27.6% achieved ASAS partial remission.
Moreover, at five years, 78.4% of AS patients had no arthritis and 84.9% had no enthesitis (inflammation at the junction between tendon and bone). Over this period, patients continued to show a sustained high response rate, low disease activity, good functional state and low creactive protein (CRP, a marker for inflammation) levels, according to the results of a new openlabel follow-up study presented today at EULAR 2009, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Copenhagen, Denmark.
AS is the most frequent chronic inflammatory rheumatic disease that characteristically affects the axial skeleton, entheses (sites where ligaments and tendons attach to bone) and peripheral joints. In consequence, new bone formation may result - eventually leading to ankylosis (fusion of vertebral bodies). Typical symptoms of AS include inflammatory back pain and spinal stiffness.
Dr Frank Heldmann, Centre of Rheumatology, Rheumazentrum Ruhrgebiet, Herne, Germany, the coordinator of the study, said: "Until now, our knowledge on the long-term efficacy of anti-TNF therapy in AS has remained rather limited, but the EASIC study group has significantly contributed to furthering this. Since anti-TNF agents are a relatively new treatment option for patients with AS, and can be required for long periods of time, there is strong need to know about their long-term efficacy and safety. The data show that infliximab therapy was associated with sustained efficacy and favourable attrition rates (less than 10% per year for any reason over 5 years). Thus, our study confirms the role of infliximab as an effective and overall well tolerated treatment optoion in the management of patients with this chronic condition."