Online first

Acta Reumatológica Portuguesa - Online First: 2019-05-15
Original article

Tocilizumab and rituximab have similar effectiveness and are both superior to a second tumour necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi) in rheumatoid arthritis patients who discontinued a first TNFi

Santos-Faria D, Tavares-Costa J, Eusébio M, Silva JL, Rodrigues JR, Sousa-Neves J, Duarte AC, Lopes C, Valido A, Dinis J, Freitas J, Santiago M, Ferreira R, Ganhão S, Miranda L, Peixoto D, Teixeira F, Alcino S, Afonso C, Santos MJ


Objectives: To compare the effectiveness of a 2nd TNF inhibitor (TNFi), Tocilizumab (TCZ) and Rituximab (RTX), measured by drug retention and by response rates, in RA patients after discontinuing a first-line TNFi and to clarify the reasons and predictors for discontinuation of a second-line biologic. Material and Methods: Non-interventional prospective study of RA patients exposed to a 2nd TNFi, TCZ or RTX after previous TNFi discontinuation using real-world data from database. Drug retention was estimated using Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox models. Crude and LUNDEX adjusted response rates were evaluated at 6 months, 1 and 2 years and reasons for discontinuation were compared according to biologic class. Results: In total, 643 patients were included, 88.8% females, with a mean age of 59.4±12.8 years. Of those, 390 (60.7%) initiated a 2nd TNFi, 147 (22.9%) TCZ and 106 (16.5%) RTX. Drug retention was significantly greater among patients who initiated TCZ (76.4±4.3 months) or RTX (80.8±4.8 months), compared with those who initiated a 2nd TNFi (52.7±2.6 months) (log rank test, p < 0.001). In the adjusted Cox model, hazards of discontinuation were significantly lower for TCZ (HR 0.39, 95% CI 0.23-0.64, p < 0.001) and RTX (HR 0.42, 95% CI 0.25-0.72, p=0.001). Smokers had a significantly higher risk for discontinuation (HR 2.43, 95%CI 1.50-3.95, p < 0.001) as well as patients with higher HAQ at baseline (HR 1.51, 95%CI 1.14-2.00, p=0.004). The proportion of patients in remission or low disease activity according to Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) at 6 months, 1 and 2 years was, respectively, 46.5%/50.0%/61.2% for TNFi, 52.9%/53.6%/ 69.2% for TCZ and 37.7%/48.0%/50.0% for RTX. After LUNDEX adjustment, response rates were, respectively, 33.0%/31.0%/31.8% for 2nd TNFi, 42.8%/41.8%/53.3% for TCZ and 32.0%/39.4%/39.0% for RTX. The main reasons for discontinuation were inefficacy for 2nd TNFi and RTX and adverse events for TCZ (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Our findings showed a significantly higher drug retention for TCZ and RTX, compared with 2nd TNFi, and similar persistence among TCZ and RTX, in patients who discontinued a first-line TNFi. These data corroborate the notion that switching to a biologic with a different mode of action is more effective than to a second TNFi.