Rituxan can be effective as maintenance therapy for difficult-to-treat patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, allowing them to cut their use of immunosuppressive agents & corticosteroids, according to a recent study. However, there is continuity in the occurrence of relapses frequently, mostly in those patients who have active joint disease.
While at present, treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are able to induce remission, patients experience relapses frequently. Hence, a considerable need exists for the improvement of the management of systemic lupus erythematosus in the maintenance phase of treatment.
Rituxan, by Biogen and Genentech, has been extensively used for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and has exhibited promise in retrospective & prospective clinical trials. But, it has not shown great effectiveness in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus in a real-world setting.
The inconsistency between the results from the clinical trials & those seen in real-world proposes that perhaps only a minor subset of patients would benefit from the therapy.
Hence, a group of British and Italian researchers set out to learn more about the use of Rituxan in systemic lupus erythematosus patients by describing outcomes of the treatment of a European cohort. Emphasis was placed by the researchers on Rituxan’s role as a maintenance agent.
Statistical analysis revealed that patients with active joint disease at the beginning of the study were around 4 times more probable to experience flares during the maintenance treatment. But, the researchers also found that patients who received Rituxan as maintenance treatment lived the same period of time without relapse, compared to those given a single course of Rituxan to induce remission.
Investigators concluded that Rituxan maintenance treatment is a possible treatment option in difficult-to-treat patients. Relapses occur during the maintenance therapy & are more likely in those who have active articular disease at the time of the first treatment.