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Use of Biologic Agents Continues to Expand Among US Rheumatologists - Can New Agents Shift the Treatment Paradigm in Rheumatoid Arthritis?

EXTON, Pa., Sept. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- BioTrends Research Group, Inc. released its third annual TreatmentTrends(TM): The Use of Biologic Agents in Rheumatology publication, providing insight into the management of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA), and Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). This report is based on responses to an online survey completed by 100 US Rheumatologists in August 2008.

According to the study, the majority of Rheumatologists reported an increase in their use of biologics for the treatment of RA, PsA, and AS in the past six months. In most cases, biologic agents are being prescribed for RA, however, AS and PsA together account for approximately 20% of the cases for which the Rheumatologists are prescribing biologics. More than half of the respondents expect their use of biologics in RA and PsA to increase in the next six months, and 39% expect their use of these agents for "other" conditions to increase as well.

While the increased use of biologics was seen across the board, certain physician types, particularly those newer to practice, seem to be more aggressive in their use of these agents. Bristol Myers Squibb's Orencia (abatacept) experienced significant share gains in the past year and a higher percent of Rheumatologists report using Orencia this year compared to last. Despite these gains, the TNF-alpha antagonists (Amgen/Wyeth's Enbrel, Abbott's Humira, and Cenotcor's Remicade) still collectively account for more than 80% of the biologic share in RA. While all of the biologics are negatively impacted by out of pocket costs to patients, a top obstacle to expanded Orencia use is its second/third line status ("patients do well on the first line choice") and the top obstacles to expanded Rituxan use are centered around safety and tolerability concerns. Safety concerns with Rituxan may continue with the recent news of the first fatal case of PML in a patient taking Rituxan for RA. Most respondents indicated that Orencia is typically chosen after one TNF-alpha failure while Genentech's Rituxan is reserved until patients have failed two or more biologic agents.

Among the Rheumatologists anticipating an increase in the use of biologics in RA, 59% cite that newer agents are the main reason for the expectation of expanded use. A number of new biologics with unique mechanisms of action may soon be available for use in RA. Improved and sustained efficacy in new products and oral formulations are highly desirable. UCB's Cimzia is already on the market with an indication for Crohn's Disease, and while Rheumatologists are interested in this compound, off label use is limited. Among biologics in development, familiarity and interest are highest for Roche's Actemra, an anti-IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody which could be available by the end of the year.

About BioTrends Research Group, Inc.

BioTrends Research Group, Inc. ( provides syndicated and custom market research to pharmaceutical manufacturers competing in clinically evolving, specialty pharmaceutical markets. For information on BioTrends publications and research capabilities, please contact BioTrends at (610) 363-3872 or

All company, brand, or product names contained in this document may be trademarks of their respective holders.

SOURCE BioTrends Research Group, Inc.
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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