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In a Phase IIIb clinical trial, the biologic drugs Orencia® (abatacept) and Humira® (adalimumab) achieved similar outcomes among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and an inadequate response to methotrexate. These results were presented at the 2013 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology.

Treatment of RA often begins with methotrexate or another disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD). If this initial treatment does not adequately control the RA, patients may move on to treatment with a newer, biologic DMARD such as Orencia or Humira. Humira is a type of drug known as a TNF inhibitor and Orencia reduces the activity of immune cells known as T cells.

To compare the two drugs for the treatment of RA, researchers conducted a Phase IIIb clinical trial among 646 patients who had an inadequate response to methotrexate and who had never taken a biologic RA drug. Study participants were treated with methotrexate in combination with either Orencia or Humira.

  • After two years of treatment, 60% of patients in each treatment group had an ACR20 response (at least a 20% improvement in symptoms). The two groups also had similar measures of joint health and similar overall rates of side effects. Patients treated with Orencia had more autoimmune adverse effects but fewer infections than patients treated with Humira. Cancers developed in 2% of patients in each study group.
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These results suggest that Humira and Orencia have similar effectiveness for the treatment of RA. People with RA have a broad and growing range of treatment options.

Schiff M, Weinblatt M, Valente R et al. Head-to-head comparison of subcutaneous abatacept versus adalimumab on background methotrexate in RA: two year results from the AMPLE study. Presented at the 2013 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR 2013). June 12-15, 2013; Madrid. Abstract OP0044.