Conference Coverage

New agents may bring hope for SLE patients



– Several drugs approved for other conditions may also have good effect in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, Michelle Petri, MD, said in an interview at the annual Congress of Clinical Rheumatology.

The molecules target several different disease pathways, said Dr. Petri, director of the Hopkins Lupus Center at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

Ustekinumab (Stelara) has accumulated the most data so far. A phase 2 study presented last fall at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology found that it conferred significant benefits relative to placebo, including a 60% responder rate (29% better than placebo), a significantly lower flare rate, and improvements in musculoskeletal and mucocutaneous disease features. The rate of serious adverse events was acceptable (8.3% vs. 9.5% for placebo).

Baricitinib is also being investigated in SLE, Dr. Petri said. A phase 2 study conducted by Eli Lilly closed late last year and will be reported on June 13 at the European League Against Rheumatism’s opening plenary session (Wallace et al. EULAR 2018 abstract OP0019).

The three-armed, placebo-controlled study comprised 314 patients who were randomized to placebo or one of two baricitinib doses, given orally for 24 weeks. The primary outcome was remission of arthritis and/or rash as measured by the SLE Disease Activity Index 2000 (SLEDAI-2K). Secondary endpoints included responder rate, change from baseline in the SLEDAI-2K, change in the Global Assessment of Disease Activity score, and pharmacokinetic measures.

Dr. Petri disclosed relationships with Amgen, Boston Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, EMD Serono, Janssen, Novartis, and GlaxoSmithKline.

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