Perhaps it wasn’t the biggest year for arthritis news but there was a fair share about medications and research. The most newsworthy stories were about new drugs approved by the FDA, new statistics released by the CDC, and a surprise withdrawal of a popular painkiller. Here is a review of the top 10 arthritis news stories for 2010.
1. Actemra (tocilizumab) Approved by FDA for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Genentech announced in early January that the U.S. FDA approved Actemra (tocilizumab) for the treatment of adult patients with moderate to severely active rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to one or more TNF blockers. Actemra is the first interleukin-6 receptor-inhibiting monoclonal antibody approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis Increasing in White American Women
According to study results published in the March 2010 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis appears to be increasing among white women in the U.S., following years of decline. Researchers believe the cause of the increase in white women is environmental — not genetic.
3. Vimovo Approved by FDA to Treat Arthritis
On May 1, 2010, the FDA announced approval of Vimovo for relief of the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and to decrease the risk of developing gastric ulcers in patients at risk of developing NSAID-associated gastric ulcers. Vimovo, co-developed by Pozen and AstraZeneca, is a combination of naproxen and immediate-release esomeprazole. The immediate-release formulation allows for sequential release of the active components, with esomeprazole delivered in advance of the release of the naproxen.
4. Heart Attack Risk Increases 6-Fold for Women With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis patients have a two-fold increased risk of heart attack versus the general population. That’s comparable to the increased risk of heart attack seen in diabetic patients. Data was further analyzed to look for differences among various age groups. Researchers found that heart attack risk increased 6-fold in women with rheumatoid arthritis younger than 50 years of age — and that’s comparable to diabetics within the same age group.
5. Alcohol May Reduce Severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Drinking alcohol may reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis, according to study results published in a July issue of the journal Rheumatology. This is the first time the effect of alcohol on severity of rheumatoid arthritis has been shown in humans. The study also confirmed previous study results that linked alcohol consumption to a reduced risk of developing the disease.
6. Protein Produced in Rheumatoid Arthritis May Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists believe that production of a protein, known as GM-CSF, may be the reason rheumatoid arthritis appears to protect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system goes haywire and proteins that attack the body are produced, including GM-CSF. It had been thought that the protective effect was the result of rheumatoid arthritis patients taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs but results of a study published in the August 2010 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease point to GM-CSF.
7. Krystexxa (pegloticase) Approved by FDA for Gout
In September, the FDA approved Krystexxa (pegloticase) for the treatment of painful gout in adults who do not respond to or who are unable to tolerate conventional treatment. Approximately 3% of the 3 million adults who have gout are not sufficiently helped by conventional therapy. Krystexxa will be an important treatment option for those patients. more…
8. CDC Reports 50 Million U.S. Adults Have Arthritis
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an updated report on the prevalence of arthritis in the October 8, 2010, issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The updated information was based on an analysis of National Health Interview Survey Data from 2007-2009. The findings revealed that nearly 50 million adults (age 18 or older) have self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis. That’s 22.2% of the population — and up from 46 million adults reported in 2003-2005.
9. Cymbalta Approved for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain
The FDA-approved Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride) on November 4, 2010, for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal pain, including osteoarthritis and chronic low back pain. You may have heard of Cymbalta before now. The drug was first approved and used to treat major depressive disorder in 2004.
10. Arthritis Painkiller Propoxyphene (Darvocet, Darvon) Being Withdrawn from U.S. Market
Darvon and Darvocet, the brand name versions of the pain medication propoxyphene, were withdrawn from the market in the United States. Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals agreed to comply with the FDA’s request to withdraw the drugs, announcing the decision on November 19, 2010. Generic manufacturers of drugs that contain propoxyphene have also been notified and asked to comply. Darvon was originally developed by Eli Lilly & Co., and had been on the U.S. market for more than 50 years. Eli Lilly & Co. later developed Darvocet, combining Darvon with acetaminophen.