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Roche says repeated MabThera treatment helps rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

June 13, 2007

Roche Holdings AG said new data shows relief from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms is 'sustained or further improved' by repeated use over several years of its rheumatism drug MabThera.

The data also showed that MabThera remains safe to use after as many as seven courses of treatment at 6-12 month intervals, the company said in a statement published at an annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR).

Roche said 1,053 rheumatoid arthritis patients who previously did not adequately respond to other drugs were treated with MabThera, and almost 70 pct of the patients used the drug for more than two years.

A quarter of patients who did not respond to treatment with a drug called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors showed a 70 pct improvement in symptoms when treated with MabThera repeatedly, compared with only 11 pct while treated with TNF inhibitors.

The number of patients achieving remission doubled to 12 pct, Roche said. Patients previously treated with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) showed a remission rate that rose to 14 pct from 5 pct.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation that leads to stiff, swollen and painful joints.

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