About 40 percent of all people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) do not respond to any kind of medical treatment.
Even more people find something that helps temporarily, only to have it fail a few years later.
With such a high percentage of people whose rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is unresponsive to medications, researchers are spending a significant amount of time and money trying to find drugs that do work.
One of these medications may be in the pipeline now.
An Effective 12 Weeks
The drug is called baricitinib.
Baricitinib was shown in recent studies to reduce pain in joints affected by RA after 12 weeks of use. It was effective in about half the patients studied — patients who formerly had little-to-no success with previous treatments.
Of the 527 patients involved in the clinical trial, 55 percent saw less joint symptoms after the 12-week period. It is worth noting that 27 percent of placebo patients had some notable reduction.
"The drug worked well across all patient subgroups, independently of what they'd been taking before or how long they'd had the disease," said Dr. Mark Genovese, professor of immunology and rheumatology at Stanford University, in a press release. “This is the first drug to demonstrate meaningful clinical benefit in patients who've failed virtually every other commercial drug for rheumatoid arthritis.”
What’s the Difference?
But why is baricitinib different from any other RA drug on the market?
For starters, it is a JAK-inhibitor, which is a newer kind of RA biologic. It’s also a class of drugs that seems to have good success rates with patients.
JAK-inhibitors are usually oral biologics as opposed to infusions or injections.
The success of this phase III study could mean that baricitinib will soon be on the market and that it may offer new hope to patients who haven’t had any other success with rheumatoid arthritis drugs.
“As someone who has had unresponsive RA for decades, a new medication is always a good thing,” said RA patient Julie McFields of Montana. “To me, new meds and new discoveries relating to my arthritis are always another chance for me to improve, even if it’s only a little bit.”