Once the go-to drug for rheumatoid arthritis, rituximab is now one of a crowded field of contenders in this common condition. In this brief video interview, Ben Kramer of Genentech/Roche reviews the latest information about two issues of concern relating to the drug:
• when and how it is safe to follow with other biologics when rituximab fails, and
• the magnitude of risk for a potentially fatal adverse effect: progressive multifocal leukencephalopathy or PML.
Rheumatology Network 's Editorial Director Lois Wingerson interviewed Mr. Kramer, who is Vice President for Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Genentech/Roche, during the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Boston.
"What the data showed was that, regardless of the number of cycles and the time intervals after the discontinuation of rituximab and the introduction of a new biologic, there was no difference in the rate of new infections (or a rate that would be concerning), and this was very good news.
"What we do particularly with PML is that we want to make sure they are confirmed cases, so either someone has had a brain biopsy ... or they've had cerebrospinal fluid extracted ... or autopsy. ... Terms [such as PML] go into databases regardless of whether or not there's evidence to support that. We're very focused on making sure that the proper diagnosis has been made."