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Among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and an inadequate response to methotrexate, adding either Orencia® (abatacept) or Humira® (adalimumab) produced similar benefits. These results were presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

Biologics are often used for the treatment of RA if conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as methotrexate do not adequately control the disease. Humira and Orencia are both biologics but have different mechanisms of action. Humira is a type of drug known as a TNF inhibitor and Orencia reduces the activity of immune cells known as T cells.

To directly compare Humira and Orencia, researchers conducted a Phase IIIb clinical trial known as AMPLE. The study enrolled 646 patients who had had an inadequate response to methotrexate. None of the patients had previously been treated with a biologic.

Study participants were treated with either Humira or Orencia. All study participants also continued treatment with methotrexate.

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  • After one year of treatment, 64.8% of patients treated with Orencia and 63.4% of patients treated with Humira had at least a 20% reduction in symptoms (an ACR 20 response).
  • A 50% reduction in symptoms (an ACR 50 response) was achieved by 46% of patients in both groups.
  • Radiologic measures of disease progression were similar in the two groups.
  • Overall rates of side effects were also similar in the two groups. Autoimmune side effects were more common with Orencia (3.1% with Orencia versus 0.9% with Humira). Withdrawal from the study because of side effects was more common with Humira (6.1% with Humira versus 3.5% with Orencia).

These results suggest that Humira and Orencia are similarly effective for the treatment of RA in patients who have had an inadequate response to methotrexate. People with RA have a broad and growing range of treatment options.

Reference: Weinblatt ME. Head to Head Comparison of Subcutaneous Abatacept Versus Adalimumab in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Key Efficacy and Safety Results From the Ample (Abatacept Versus Adalimumab Comparison in Biologic-Naive RA Subjects with Background Methotrexate) Trial. Presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology. Washington, DC. November 10-14, 2012. Abstract 2449.