New research from Boston Healthcare Associates on biologic therapies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) suggests that those therapies have benefits for patients who exceed their value as understood when they were initially approved.
RA is a progressive autoimmune disorder that can cause significant pain for patients, according to a news release. Boston Healthcare Associates’ research suggests that biologic therapies offer results not well captured by conventional assessment methods, which focus on point-in-time evaluations.
According to the research, providers can test patients for characteristics that help predict whether they will respond to a particular biologic treatment. Providers can use a simple gene expression test to find up to 60 percent of patients who will not respond to TNF-inhibitor therapy. The group’s research also shows that introducing biologic therapy into a patient’s treatment early in the progression of RA can substantially reduce his or her risk of remission and improve the durability of remission once achieved.
Boston Healthcare Associates also found that the success rates possible with today’s RA interventions have made older standards obsolete. In 1995, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) created ACR20, or a 20 percent improvement in tender and swollen joint counts, as a measure of success. The ACR updated that in 2008 to require improvement between 50 percent and 70 percent, as patients can expect much better outcomes through a combination of biologic therapies and synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).