As rheumatology evolves, it can be challenging to stay current with the latest research and treatments. The Handoff is a weekly roundup of the most important news and updates in rheumatic diseases. Keep your finger on the pulse of rheumatology with The Handoff.

–The 2016 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting might be over, but Rheumatology Advisor’s coverage continues. Check out the latest from the conference here.


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–A New England Journal of Medicine study has found that celecoxib (Celebrex®, Pfizer) is no more likely to cause myocardial infarctions than ibuprofen or naproxen. Rheumatology Advisor reported on the conclusion of the decade-long study, which questions the widespread assumption that coxibs as an entire class may carrier similar cardiovascular risks. Will this change your management of pain associated with arthritis?

–A multicenter study has found that both certolizumab pegol and adalimumab are equally as effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis, according to several key measures of disease activity. The study also found that switching from one drug to another can benefit patients who are not responding positively.

–The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Chronic Inflammation and Bone Structure (CIBS) Working Group concluded their investigation into progressive bone loss in rheumatoid arthritis. The verdict? Early and aggressive treatment with biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) can lower inflammation and halt the resulting bone loss.

–Full results from EXXELERATE (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT01500278), a head-to-head study of certolizumab pegol (Cimzia®, UCB Pharma) and adalimumab (Humira®, AbbVie), have been published in the Lancet. The study found no statistically significant difference in efficacy between the two drugs, but contributed to the limited research surrounding immediate switching of anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) drugs.

–For the fifth time, GlaxoSmithKline has been ranked first on the Access to Medicine Index, a who’s who of pharmaceutical company efforts to bring drugs, vaccines, and scientific expertise to low- and middle-income countries around the globe.

— Data presented at the 2016 ACR Annual Meeting by Novarits and Celgene show that their respective drugs—secukinumab (Cosentyx®, Novartis) and apremilast (Otezla®, Celgene)—both meet similar designated ACR20 outcome benchmarks and improve signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

–Another presentation out of ACR presented data from the ORBIT study (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT01021735)—a randomized controlled trial from the United Kingdom—found that 3 specific gene expression signatures can help rheumatologists predict which patients with moderate-to-severe RA are more likely to respond to either TNF inhibitors (TNFi) or B-cell depletion therapies.

–A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that patients with elevated proportions of inflammatory protein type 1 interferon beta are more likely to respond poorly to TNFi treatments. As Theresa Wampler Muskardin, MD, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic points out, “Investigating these pathways may identify other targets for therapy or other markers that may predict treatment response.”

–Eric L. Matteson, MD, MPH, sat down with Rheumatology Advisor to discuss research supported with the Rheumatology Research Foundation. Watch the video below. 

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