Eugen Feist, MD: Olokizumab Emerges as Promising Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatology Network sat down with Eugen Feist, MD, to discuss the recent olokizumab data including the therapeutic prospects for olokizumab, its unique biologic mode of action, and the clinical significance of the phase III studies.

Rheumatology Network sat down with Eugen Feist, MD, to discuss the recent olokizumab data presented at the EULAR 2021 Virtual Congress as a promising therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. Feist is the Medical Director at Helios Department for Rheumatology in Germany. He explains the therapeutic prospects for olokizumab, its unique biologic mode of action, and the clinical significance of the phase III studies.

While currently only available in Russia, olokizumab, a direct interleukin 6 (IL-6) inhibitor, is close to approval in a variety of other countries and may soon be available as an additional medication for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The addition may improve disease management for this patient population. Besides affecting patients with rheumatoid arthritis, IL-6 plays a role in the pathogenesis for other diseases as well, such as systemic sclerosis.

“We need real world evidence. We hope for future development, maybe even other indications outside of rheumatoid arthritis because there may also be an option to use the drug in other rheumatic diseases for which we don't have a good treatment approach so far, but a high medical need,” stated Feist. “It is of interest to explore the full treatment benefits that this new drug can offer us.”

Feist was not surprised by the results of the study, as IL-6 inhibitors have been proven to be an effective approach to treating rheumatoid arthritis and boast a solid safety profile. Investigators did not find any new safety signals and olokizumab appears to be similar to other biologic drugs.

“I think we have really seen a bright development in rheumatology. Although some of us may have believed that the problem with rheumatoid arthritis was already solved, I think we all have learned in the past years that this is not the case,” Feist concluded. “There is indeed still a lot of work to do... At the end of the day, new developments are on the way. We can all look forward to these new treatment options.”

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