Drug delivery options to increase patient adherence and satisfaction in the management of rheumatoid arthritis — focus on subcutaneous tocilizumab

Yasuharu Nakashima, Masakazu Kondo, Hisaaki Miyahara, Yukihide Iwamoto
Drug Design, Development and Therapy 2014, 8: 913-9
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, progressive, inflammatory disease associated with joint destruction. Tocilizumab (TCZ) is a humanized monoclonal anti-interleukin-6 receptor antibody that was initially developed for use as an intravenous (IV) infusion. Previous studies have shown that TCZ-IV is an important treatment option in patients with moderate-to-severe RA. A subcutaneous (SC) formulation of 162 mg TCZ that was recently developed and approved provides an additional treatment option for RA patients. In the present review, we provide an update on the efficacy and safety of TCZ-SC, compared with TCZ-IV. The TCZ-SC doses of 162 mg every 2 weeks (q2w) or weekly (qw) were selected based on pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies. Both TCZ-SC q2w and qw regimens showed equivalent effects to TCZ-IV in most patients; however, the TCZ-SC qw regimen consistently showed a more rapid effect in terms of C-reactive protein normalization. Randomized controlled studies showed that TCZ-SC monotherapy or combined with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs demonstrated comparable efficacy to TCZ-IV in patients who were both biologic-naïve and refractory to tumor necrosis factor inhibitors. TCZ-SC at both qw and q2w were generally well-tolerated for up to 24 weeks. There was a low rate of withdrawal due to adverse events, and their incidence was comparable with that seen with TCZ-IV. An injection site reaction was seen in approximately 10% of patients who received the subcutaneous formulation. In conclusion, although clinical results are still limited, the currently available evidence suggests that TCZ-SC is a promising treatment for moderate-to-severe RA, both as monotherapy and combination therapy. More data is needed to determine the optimal dosing schedule.

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