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Abatacept and non-melanoma skin cancer in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a comprehensive evaluation of randomised controlled trials and observational studies.

OBJECTIVES: This study aims to evaluate non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) risk associated with abatacept treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS: This evaluation included 16 abatacept RA clinical trials and 6 observational studies. NMSC incidence rates (IRs)/1000 patient-years (p-y) of exposure were compared between patients treated with abatacept versus placebo, conventional synthetic (cs) disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and other biological/targeted synthetic (b/ts)DMARDs. For observational studies, a random-effects model was used to pool rate ratios (RRs).

RESULTS: ~49 000 patients receiving abatacept were analysed from clinical trials (~7000) and observational studies (~42 000). In randomised trials (n=4138; median abatacept exposure, 12 (range 2-30) months), NMSC IRs (95% CIs) were not significantly different for abatacept (6.0 (3.3 to 10.0)) and placebo (4.0 (1.3 to 9.3)) and remained stable throughout the long-term, open-label period (median cumulative exposure, 28 (range 2-130 months); 21 335 p-y of exposure (7044 patients over 3 years)). For registry databases, NMSC IRs/1000 p-y were 5-12 (abatacept), 1.6-10 (csDMARDs) and 3-8 (other b/tsDMARDs). Claims database IRs were 19-22 (abatacept), 15-18 (csDMARDs) and 14-17 (other b/tsDMARDs). Pooled RRs (95% CIs) from observational studies for NMSC in patients receiving abatacept were 1.84 (1.00 to 3.37) vs csDMARDs and 1.11 (0.98 to 1.26) vs other b/tsDMARDs.

CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with the warnings and precautions of the abatacept label, this analysis suggests a potential increase in NMSC risk with abatacept use compared with csDMARDs. No significant increase was observed compared with b/tsDMARDs, but the lower limit of the 95% CI was close to unity.

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