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Biosimilars: a regulatory perspective from America

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:17pm

Biosimilars are protein products that are sufficiently similar to a biopharmaceutical already approved by a regulatory agency. Several biotechnology companies and generic drug manufacturers in Asia and Europe are developing biosimilars of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors and rituximab. A biosimilar etanercept is already being marketed in Colombia and China. In the US, several natural source products and recombinant proteins have been approved as generic drugs under Section 505(b)(2) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. However, because the complexity of large biopharmaceuticals makes it difficult to demonstrate that a biosimilar is structurally identical to an already approved biopharmaceutical, this Act does not apply to biosimilars of large biopharmaceuticals. Section 7002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is referred to as the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, amends Section 351 of the Public Health Service Act to create an abbreviated pathway that permits a biosimilar to be evaluated by comparing it with only a single reference biological product. This paper reviews the processes for approval of biosimilars in the US and the European Union and highlights recent changes in federal regulations governing the approval of biosimilars in the US.

Diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: risk reduction in a chronic inflammatory disease

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:17pm

OBJECTIVE: To perform a systematic literature review of the potential association among molecular markers of inflammation, alterations in body composition, and insulin resistance (IR), a precursor to type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. To determine the impact of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) as a pivotal proinflammatory cytokine in the pathophysiology of type 2 DM and RA, and the effect of antirheumatic drugs on glycemic control.

METHODS: We performed a search of PubMed to identify articles on IR and body habitus in patients with RA.

RESULTS: Patients with RA had characteristics placing them at high risk for IR and type 2 DM. The incidence and prevalence of type 2 DM in RA was not clearly increased compared with the general population; however, studies suggested that patients with RA are likely to have IR and have increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The prevalence of type 2 DM and IR could be estimated from reports of risk factors for CVD in RA patients. The TNFalpha antagonists provided rapid and effective control of RA-related inflammation. Evidence indicated that extended use of TNFalpha antagonists in RA may provide the additional benefit of improving insulin sensitivity. These treatment-related changes may contribute to an overall reduction in the risk of type 2 DM and CVD in RA patients.

CONCLUSION: Controlling inflammation may improve insulin sensitivity and subsequently reduce the risk of developing type 2 DM in RA patients. This may also reduce the risk of CVD in this high-risk group. Future studies are required to elucidate the relationships between inflammation, body composition, IR, TNFalpha antagonist use, and the risk of developing type 2 DM in RA patients.

Golimumab: A novel human anti-TNF-alpha monoclonal antibody for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:17pm

INTRODUCTION: The introduction of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors represented a significant advance in the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other chronic inflammatory diseases. Although three TNF-alpha inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of RA by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicinal Products Evaluation Agency (EMEA), not all patients achieve a satisfactory clinical improvement with these therapeutic agents. The mode of administration of these medications is inconvenient for some patients. AIMS: Golimumab is a novel anti-TNF-alpha monoclonal antibody that is in clinical development for the treatment of RA, psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), either as a first-line biologic therapy or an alternative after other TNF-alpha inhibitors have been discontinued. This review summarizes the development of, and clinical evidence achieved with, golimumab.

EVIDENCE REVIEW: Golimumab has demonstrated significant efficacy in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials when administered subcutaneously once every four weeks. It has been generally well tolerated in clinical trials and demonstrates a safety profile comparable with currently available TNF-alpha inhibitors.

OUTCOMES SUMMARY: Golimumab has been confirmed to be an effective treatment for patients with RA, PsA, and AS in phase III clinical trials as evaluated by traditional measures of disease activity, such as signs and symptoms, as well as measures of physical function, patient reported outcomes, and health economic measures. The efficacy and safety profile of golimumab in RA, PsA, and AS appears to be similar to other anti-TNF agents. However, golimumab has the potential advantage of once monthly subcutaneous administration and the possibility of both subcutaneous and intravenous administration.

Golimumab in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis after treatment with tumor necrosis factor inverted question mark inhibitors: findings with up to five years of treatment in the multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 GO-A

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:17pm

Introduction: The aim of this study was to assess long-term golimumab therapy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who discontinued previous tumor necrosis factor- inverted question mark (TNF)-inhibitor(s).

Methods:Patients enrolled into this multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of active RA ( inverted question mark4 tender, inverted question mark4 swollen joints) received placebo (Group 1) or golimumab 50 mg (Group 2) or 100 mg (Group 3) injections every 4 weeks. Patients in Groups 1 and 2 with inadequate response at week 16 escaped to golimumab 50 and 100 mg, respectively. At week 24, Group 1 patients crossed-over to golimumab 50 mg, Group 2 continued golimumab 50/100 mg per escape status, and Group 3 maintained dosing. During the long-term-extension (LTE), golimumab 50 mg could be increased to 100 mg, and 100 mg could be decreased to 50 mg. Data through 5 years are reported for all patients (safety) and patients using methotrexate (efficacy, intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis with last-observation-carried-forward for missing data and non-responder imputation for unsatisfactory efficacy discontinuations).

Results: In total, 459 of 461 randomized patients received the study agent, 304 of whom were methotrexate-treated and included in efficacy analyses. Through week 256, the proportions of methotrexate-treated patients achieving American-College-of-Rheumatology (ACR) responses were 37.6% to 47.0% for ACR20, 21.4% to 35.0% for ACR50, and 7.8% to 17.0% for ACR70 response across randomized groups. Golimumab safety through week 268 was generally consistent with that at week 24 and week 160 and other anti-TNF agents.

Conclusions:In some patients with active RA discontinuing previous TNF-antagonist therapy, golimumab safety and efficacy, assessed conservatively with ITT analyses, was confirmed through 5 years.

Trial NCT00299546. Registered 03 March 2006.

Sarilumab for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis: results of a Phase II, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (ALIGN)

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVES: The ALIGN study (NCT01061723) evaluated the efficacy and safety of sarilumab, the first fully human monoclonal antibody against interleukin-6 receptor-alpha (IL-6Ralpha), in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

METHODS: Patients with active AS despite conventional treatment were randomised to placebo, or one of five subcutaneous dose regimens of sarilumab (100, 150 or 200 mg every other week, or 100 or 150 mg every week), for 12 weeks. The primary efficacy end point was the percentage of patients achieving the Axial SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS) 20 response criteria at week 12. Secondary endpoints included ASAS40 response, ASAS partial remission, AS Disease Activity Score, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) value, and safety.

RESULTS: Baseline demographic and disease characteristics of the 301 patients enrolled were similar across treatment groups. At week 12, there was no statistically significant difference in ASAS20 response rate between placebo (ASAS20 = 24.0%) and any sarilumab dose group. A significantly greater reduction in hs-CRP value was achieved with the higher sarilumab doses versus placebo. No other statistically significant differences were evident for secondary efficacy endpoints.The most common treatment-emergent adverse events reported for sarilumab included infections (non-serious), neutropenia, and increase in alanine aminotransferase. No cases of tuberculosis, opportunistic, or fungal infections, or bowel perforations were reported. Seven patients experienced a treatment-emergent serious adverse event (all in sarilumab treatment groups). No deaths occurred.

CONCLUSIONS: The ALIGN study shows that IL-6Ralpha blockade with sarilumab was not an effective treatment for AS. Sarilumab was generally well tolerated with a manageable safety profile.

Golimumab 3-year safety update: an analysis of pooled data from the long-term extensions of randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials conducted in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVE: To assess pooled golimumab safety up to year 3 of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS) trials.

METHODS: Golimumab 50 and 100 mg, administered subcutaneously (SC) every 4 weeks (q4wk), were assessed in patients with active RA (methotrexate-naive, methotrexate-experienced and anti-TNF (tumour necrosis factor)-experienced), PsA or AS, despite conventional therapy. Placebo control continued up to week (wk) 24 (wk 52, methotrexate-naive), with early escape at wk 16 (wk 28, methotrexate-naive); subsequently, all patients received golimumab 50 or 100 mg q4wk. After the blinded controlled period, golimumab doses could be adjusted per investigator discretion. Pooled safety analyses reported herein include data from placebo-controlled and uncontrolled study periods up to wk 160. Determinations of incidences/100 patient-years (pt-yrs) for rare events also included RA patients from a phase IIb trial.

RESULTS: Across five phase III trials of SC golimumab, 639 patients received placebo and 2226 received golimumab 50 mg (n=1249) and/or 100 mg (n=1501) up to wk 160 (patients may be included in more than one group because non-responders were allowed early escape); 1179 patients were treated for > /=156 weeks. For placebo, golimumab 50 mg and golimumab 100 mg, respective adverse event incidences/100 pt-yrs (95% CIs) up to wk 160 were: 0.28 (0.01 to 1.56), 0.30 (0.12 to 0.62), 0.41 (0.23 to 0.69) for death; 5.31 (3.20 to 8.30), 3.03 (2.36 to 3.82), 5.09 (4.36 to 5.90) for serious infection; 0.00 (0.00 to 0.84), 0.17 (0.05 to 0.44), 0.35 (0.18 to 0.62) for tuberculosis; 0.00 (0.00 to 0.84), 0.13 (0.03 to 0.38), 0.24 (0.10 to 0.46) for opportunistic infection; 0.00 (0.00 to 0.84), 0.00 (0.00 to 0.13), 0.12 (0.03 to 0.30) for demyelination; and 0.00 (0.00 to 0.84), 0.04 (0.00 to 0.24), 0.18 (0.06 to 0.38) for lymphoma.

CONCLUSIONS: SC golimumab safety up to 3 years remained consistent with that of other TNF antagonists. Golimumab 100 mg showed numerically higher incidences of serious infections, demyelinating events and lymphoma than 50 mg; safety follow-up up to year 5 continues.

Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is associated with hypophosphataemia: a case-control study

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVE: Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) is an iatrogenic fibrosing disorder that primarily affects individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD) following exposure to gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs). Derangements of calcium and phosphorus have been reported in patients with NSF. The aim of this study was to investigate potential factors in addition to GBCA exposure that may be involved in the pathogenesis of NSF. We hypothesized that patients with stage 5 CKD and NSF would manifest greater alterations in calcium, phosphorus and fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) levels than those who do not have NSF.

METHODS: Levels of phosphorus, calcium, FGF23 and 25-hydroxy-vitamin D were measured in 10 patients with stage 5 CKD and biopsy-proven NSF and in 19 patients with stage 5 CKD without NSF. Statistical analyses were performed using Fisher's exact test for categorical variables and the Kruskal-Wallis test for continuous variables.

RESULTS: Patients with NSF had significantly lower phosphorus levels compared with controls (P = 0.01). There were no significant differences between NSF patients and controls in calcium, 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, intact parathyroid hormone or FGF23 levels.

CONCLUSION: Differences in phosphorus metabolism may exist between patients with stage 5 CKD and NSF compared with patients with stage 5 CKD without NSF. British Society for Rheumatology. All rights reserved.

Insights into the efficacy of golimumab plus methotrexate in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis who discontinued prior anti-tumour necrosis factor therapy: post-hoc analyses from the GO-AFTER study

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVE: Evaluate golimumab in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and previous tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) inhibitor use.

METHODS: Patients (n=461) previously receiving > /=1 TNF inhibitor were randomised to subcutaneous injections of placebo, golimumab 50 mg or golimumab 100 mg q4 weeks. Primary endpoint ( > /=20% improvement in American College of Rheumatology (ACR20) criteria at week 14) findings have been reported for all patients in the trial. Reported herein are further assessments of efficacy/safety among patients receiving golimumab+methotrexate (MTX).

RESULTS: Among efficacy-evaluable patients who received MTX at baseline, more receiving golimumab+MTX (n=201) than placebo+MTX (n=103) achieved ACR20 (40.8% vs 14.6%), ACR50 (20.9% vs 3.9%), and ACR70 (11.4% vs 2.9%) responses at week 24. Among the 137 patients who had received only one prior TNF inhibitor (adalimumab, n=33; etanercept, n=47; and infliximab, n=57), week 24 ACR20 rates were 30.3%, 46.8% and 50.9%, respectively, and thus lowest among those who previously used adalimumab. ACR20 response rates were 44.5% (61/137), 36.2% (17/47) and 23.5% (4/17) among patients who had received one, two or three TNF inhibitors, respectively. Adverse event (AE) rates were comparable across type/number of prior anti-TNF agents, but appeared somewhat higher among patients who discontinued previous TNF inhibitor(s) due to intolerance (37/49, 75.5%) versus lack of efficacy (LOE, 113/191, 59.2%).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with active RA previously treated with > /=1 TNF inhibitor had clinically relevant improvement with golimumab+MTX, which appeared somewhat enhanced among those who received only etanercept or infliximab as their prior TNF inhibitor. Golimumab+MTX safety appeared similar across patients, regardless of TNF inhibitor(s) previously used, with fewer AEs occurring among patients who discontinued prior therapy for LOE. already granted under a licence) please go to

Prevalence of comorbidities in rheumatoid arthritis and evaluation of their monitoring: results of an international, cross-sectional study (COMORA)

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm


PATIENTS with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at increased risk of developing comorbid conditions.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the prevalence of comorbidities and compare their management in RA patients from different countries worldwide.

METHODS: STUDY DESIGN: international, cross-sectional.

PATIENTS: consecutive RA patients.

DATA COLLECTED: demographics, disease characteristics (activity, severity, treatment), comorbidities (cardiovascular, infections, cancer, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, osteoporosis and psychiatric disorders).

RESULTS: Of 4586 patients recruited in 17 participating countries, 3920 were analysed (age, 56+/-13 years; disease duration, 10+/-9 years (mean+/-SD); female gender, 82%; DAS28 (Disease Activity Score using 28 joints)-erythrocyte sedimentation rate, 3.7+/-1.6 (mean+/-SD); Health Assessment Questionnaire, 1.0+/-0.7 (mean+/-SD); past or current methotrexate use, 89%; past or current use of biological agents, 39%. The most frequently associated diseases (past or current) were: depression, 15%; asthma, 6.6%; cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke), 6%; solid malignancies (excluding basal cell carcinoma), 4.5%; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 3.5%. High intercountry variability was observed for both the prevalence of comorbidities and the proportion of subjects complying with recommendations for preventing and managing comorbidities. The systematic evaluation of comorbidities in this study detected abnormalities in vital signs, such as elevated blood pressure in 11.2%, and identified conditions that manifest as laboratory test abnormalities, such as hyperglycaemia in 3.3% and hyperlipidaemia in 8.3%.

CONCLUSIONS: Among RA patients, there is a high prevalence of comorbidities and their risk factors. In this multinational sample, variability among countries was wide, not only in prevalence but also in compliance with recommendations for preventing and managing these comorbidities. Systematic measurement of vital signs and laboratory testing detects otherwise unrecognised comorbid conditions.

The effect of golimumab on haemoglobin levels in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of golimumab on haemoglobin levels in patients with RA, PsA or AS.

METHODS: Secondary analysis was performed on integrated data from five randomized controlled studies: three RA, one PsA and one AS (2303 patients total). Golimumab 50 or 100 mg was injected s.c. every 4 weeks with or without MTX. Control groups received placebo injections plus MTX or background therapy. Patients with haemoglobin levels below the age- and sex-specific normal ranges were considered to have anaemia. Ferritin levels were used to distinguish anaemia of mixed aetiology ( > /= 15 and < 60 ng/ml) and anaemia of inflammation ( > /= 60 ng/ml). Changes from baseline to weeks 14 and 24 in haemoglobin level were compared between treatment groups using an analysis of variance on the van der Waerden normal scores.

RESULTS: At baseline, 21% of RA patients, 9% of PsA patients and 15% of AS patients had anaemia. Of these, 24%, 57% and 25%, respectively, had anaemia of inflammation. The median increase from baseline to week 14 in the haemoglobin level of anaemic patients was 0.3 g/dl in the control group and 0.9 g/dl in the golimumab group (P < 0.001). Haemoglobin levels improved within the subgroups of patients with anaemia of mixed aetiology (control, 0.4 g/dl vs golimumab, 0.7 g/dl) (P = 0.305) and with anaemia of inflammation (0.2 vs 1.4 g/dl, respectively) (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Compared with the control group, patients receiving golimumab treatment had significantly improved haemoglobin levels, particularly among patients with anaemia of inflammation.

Validation of a screening instrument for nephrogenic systemic fibrosis

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVE: To develop and pilot test a screening tool to identify cases of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) among patients exposed to gadolinium-containing contrast agents.

METHODS: Sixty English-speaking subjects were enrolled: 10 subjects diagnosed as having NSF, 10 subjects with other fibrosing skin diseases, 20 subjects with nonfibrosing skin diseases, and 20 subjects without a skin disease. Subjects answered a questionnaire with 8 closed-ended (yes/no) questions focusing on cutaneous and musculoskeletal manifestations of NSF. The subjects were evaluated by a dermatologist for the presence of clinical signs of NSF. We compared the number of affirmative responses in the NSF group to those in the other groups, and the optimal cutoff that would differentiate groups was calculated. Discrimination, positive and negative predictive values, and internal consistency were also assessed.

RESULTS: Subjects in the NSF group tended to provide more affirmative answers. Using a cutoff of >/=3 affirmative responses yields a sensitivity of 90% and a specificity of 70%, with an area under the curve of 0.85, indicating good discrimination. Sensitivity analysis using modified control group or weighted scores exhibited only slightly better discriminatory power. The positive predictive value of the questionnaire ranged from 0.3% to 39.7%, and its negative predictive values ranged from 97% to >99% with the different proposed prevalence estimates. The instrument had high internal consistency.

CONCLUSION: This pilot study demonstrates that this questionnaire has both high internal consistency and good discriminatory ability. Thus, it may be used to screen populations for NSF.

Systemic sclerosis without antinuclear antibodies or Raynaud's phenomenon: a multicentre study in the prospective EULAR Scleroderma Trials and Research (EUSTAR) database

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVE: To assess patients with SSc who present without circulating ANAs or RP.

METHODS: Five thousand three hundred and ninety patients who fulfilled the ACR criteria for SSc and were enrolled in the EULAR Scleroderma Trials and Research (EUSTAR) database were screened for the absence of both RP and circulating ANA. To differentiate SSc from its mimics, additional information was gathered using a standardized questionnaire.

RESULTS: Five thousand three hundred and seventy-eight (99.8%) of the 5390 SSc patients in the EUSTAR database had either detectable ANA or a history of RP. Twelve (0.2%) patients lacked both circulating ANA and RP. Details of the medical history could be obtained for seven patients. Three cases were compatible with ANA-negative and RP-negative SSc and were not typical of any known SSc mimic. Four patients had a malignancy: two had breast cancer, one had multiple myeloma with possible scleromyxoedema and one had bladder carcinoma. There was no temporal relationship between the onset of skin fibrosis and that of the tumour. Although no patient with confirmed nephrogenic systemic fibrosis was identified among the cases of ANA-negative and RP-negative SSc, the presentation of one patient could be compatible with that of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis other than for the absence of chronic kidney disease or of known prior gadolinium exposure.

CONCLUSION: We have identified a very small subgroup of SSc patients who lack both circulating ANA and RP, none of whom fulfils the diagnostic criteria for any known SSc mimic. Prospective studies are needed to elucidate the clinical presentation, evolution and outcome of such patients.

Golimumab in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis who have previous experience with tumour necrosis factor inhibitors: results of a long-term extension of the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled GO-AFTER study through week 160

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to assess long-term golimumab therapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who discontinued previous tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) inhibitor(s) for any reason.

METHODS: Results through week 24 of this multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of active RA ( > /=4 tender, > /=4 swollen joints) were previously reported. Patients received placebo (Group 1), 50 mg golimumab (Group 2) or 100 mg golimumab (Group 3) subcutaneous injections every 4 weeks. Patients from Groups 1 and 2 with < 20% improvement in tender/swollen joints at week 16 early escaped to golimumab 50 mg and 100 mg, respectively. At week 24, Group 1 patients crossed over to golimumab 50 mg, Group 2 continued golimumab 50/100 mg per escape status and Group 3 maintained dosing. Data through week 160 are reported.

RESULTS: 459 of the 461 randomised patients were treated; 236/459 (51%) continued treatment through week 160. From week 24 to week 100, ACR20 ( > /=20% improvement in American College of Rheumatology criteria) response and > /=0.25 unit HAQ (Health Assessment Questionnaire) improvement were sustained in 70-73% and 75-81% of responding patients, respectively. Overall at week 160, 63%, 67% and 57% of patients achieved ACR20 response and 59%, 65% and 64% had HAQ improvement > /=0.25 unit in Groups 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Adjusted for follow-up duration, adverse event incidences (95% CI) per 100 patient-years among patients treated with golimumab 50 mg and 100 mg were 4.70 (2.63 to 7.75) and 8.07 (6.02 to 10.58) for serious infection, 0.95 (0.20 to 2.77) and 2.04 (1.09 to 3.49) for malignancy and 0.00 (0.00 to 0.94) and 0.62 (0.17 to 1.59) for death, respectively.

CONCLUSION: In patients with active RA who discontinued previous TNF-antagonist treatment, golimumab 50 and 100 mg injections every 4 weeks yielded sustained improvements in signs/symptoms and physical function in approximately 57-67% of patients who continued treatment. Golimumab safety was consistent with other anti-TNF agents, although definitive conclusions regarding long-term safety require further monitoring.

Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis: clinicopathological definition and workup recommendations

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

BACKGROUND: The condition that came to be known as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) was first reported in 2000 and, in 2001, was termed "nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy." Since then, NSF has been the subject of a wide-ranging multidisciplinary medical investigation that has proven an indisputable link to renal disease and a compelling association with the increasing use of gadolinium-containing magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents in the renally impaired.

OBJECTIVE: Although precise causation and risk factors continue to be elucidated, the need for reproducible prospective epidemiologic data demands clear and objective criteria for the diagnosis of NSF.

METHODS: Experts in NSF diagnosis used their experience and the resources of the Yale International NSF Registry to develop a clinicopathological diagnostic system for NSF.

RESULTS: A consensus scoring system incorporating a clinical and histopathological atlas was devised to guide and standardize the evaluation and diagnosis of NSF.

LIMITATIONS: There is no laboratory test that can be used as a gold standard to diagnose NSF. To overcome this, we relied on classic clinicopathological presentations, published sources, and consensus clinical expertise to ensure the integrity of the study population.

CONCLUSION: The clinicopathological definition of NSF provides guidance to physicians for the evaluation and diagnosis of NSF. Clinical, laboratory, and histopathological features comprise a schema that excludes conditions mimicking NSF while facilitating its reproducible and accurate diagnosis, even among physicians with little prior clinical experience with this entity. This definition can serve as a working diagnostic standard for future research and as the basis for adjudicating borderline cases. All rights reserved.

Quantitative assessment of dermal cellularity in nephrogenic systemic fibrosis: a diagnostic aid

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

BACKGROUND: Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) affects patients with impaired renal function who have received gadolinium-containing contrast agents (GCCAs). Increased dermal cellularity is a key diagnostic feature of NSF, however, the histologic findings can be subtle.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine whether dermal cellularity in skin biopsy specimens from NSF cases: (1) differs significantly from that of controls; and (2) correlates with duration of the skin lesions, level of plasma creatinine, GCCA dose, or a combination of these.

METHODS: Seventeen NSF skin biopsy specimens and age-, sex-, and site-matched controls were retrieved from the dermatopathology files of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dermal cellularity was manually quantified on hematoxylin-eosin-stained sections and patient medical records were reviewed for demographic and clinical data.

RESULTS: NSF cases showed a mean dermal cellularity of 70.8/high-power field (control mean: 14.4/high-power field, P < .001) and a cut-off range of 19 to 26/high-power field was established. No significant correlation was identified between dermal cellularity and demographic and clinical data.

LIMITATIONS: In this retrospective analysis, duration of skin lesion was defined as the interval from most recent prior GCCA study, rather than the actual clinical onset, to time of skin biopsy, and the cumulative GCCA dose may reflect a minimum if GCCA was received at an outside institution.

CONCLUSION: Enumeration of dermal cellularity on hematoxylin-eosin-stained sections can aid in the histologic diagnosis of NSF in the setting of chronic kidney disease and GCCA exposure and is independent of patient age, sex, plasma creatinine, time from last GCCA exposure, and GCCA dose. All rights reserved.

The 2010 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis: Phase 2 methodological report

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVE: The American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism have developed new classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of Phase 2 of the development process was to achieve expert consensus on the clinical and laboratory variables that should contribute to the final criteria set.

METHODS: Twenty-four expert RA clinicians (12 from Europe and 12 from North America) participated in Phase 2. A consensus-based decision analysis approach was used to identify factors (and their relative weights) that influence the probability of "developing RA," complemented by data from the Phase 1 study. Patient case scenarios were used to identify and reach consensus on factors important in determining the probability of RA development. Decision analytic software was used to derive the relative weights for each of the factors and their categories, using choice-based conjoint analysis.

RESULTS: The expert panel agreed that the new classification criteria should be applied to individuals with undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis in whom at least 1 joint is deemed by an expert assessor to be swollen, indicating definite synovitis. In this clinical setting, they identified 4 additional criteria as being important: number of joints involved and site of involvement, serologic abnormality, acute-phase response, and duration of symptoms in the involved joints. These criteria were consistent with those identified in the Phase 1 data-driven approach.

CONCLUSION: The consensus-based, decision analysis approach used in Phase 2 complemented the Phase 1 efforts. The 4 criteria and their relative weights form the basis of the final criteria set.

The 2010 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis: methodological report phase I

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVE: To apply a data-driven approach to investigate, in patients newly presenting with undifferentiated inflammatory synovitis, key variables that discriminate the subset of patients at sufficiently high risk of persistent or erosive disease for the purpose of developing new criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS: In this first phase of the collaborative effort of the American College of Rheumatology and European League Against Rheumatism to develop new criteria for RA, a pooled analysis of early arthritis cohorts made available by the respective investigators is presented. All the variables associated with the gold standard of treatment with methotrexate during the first year after enrolment were first identified. Principal component analysis was then used to identify among the significant variables those sets that represent similar domains. In a final step, from each domain one representative variable was extracted, all of which were then tested for their independent effects in a multivariate regression model. From the OR in that final model, the relative weight of each variable was estimated.

RESULTS: The final domains and variables identified by this process (and their relative weights) were: swelling of a metacarpophalangeal joint (MCP; 1.5), swelling of a proximal interphalangeal joint (PIP; 1.5), swelling of the wrist (1.5), tenderness of the hand (ie, MCP, PIP or wrist (2)), acute phase reaction (ie, C reactive protein or erythrocyte sedimentation rate and weights for moderate or high elevations of either one (1 for moderate, 2 for high elevation)) and serological abnormalities (ie, rheumatoid factors or anti-citrullinated protein antibodies, again with separate weights for moderate or high elevations (2 and 4, respectively)).

CONCLUSION: The results of this first phase were subsequently used in the second phase of the project, which is reported in a separate methodological paper, and for derivation of the final set of criteria.

2010 Rheumatoid arthritis classification criteria: an American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism collaborative initiative

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:16pm

OBJECTIVE: The 1987 American College of Rheumatology (ACR; formerly, the American Rheumatism Association) classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have been criticized for their lack of sensitivity in early disease. This work was undertaken to develop new classification criteria for RA.

METHODS: A joint working group from the ACR and the European League Against Rheumatism developed, in 3 phases, a new approach to classifying RA. The work focused on identifying, among patients newly presenting with undifferentiated inflammatory synovitis, factors that best discriminated between those who were and those who were not at high risk for persistent and/or erosive disease--this being the appropriate current paradigm underlying the disease construct "rheumatoid arthritis."

RESULTS: In the new criteria set, classification as "definite RA" is based on the confirmed presence of synovitis in at least 1 joint, absence of an alternative diagnosis that better explains the synovitis, and achievement of a total score of 6 or greater (of a possible 10) from the individual scores in 4 domains: number and site of involved joints (score range 0-5), serologic abnormality (score range 0-3), elevated acute-phase response (score range 0-1), and symptom duration (2 levels; range 0-1).

CONCLUSION: This new classification system redefines the current paradigm of RA by focusing on features at earlier stages of disease that are associated with persistent and/or erosive disease, rather than defining the disease by its late-stage features. This will refocus attention on the important need for earlier diagnosis and institution of effective disease-suppressing therapy to prevent or minimize the occurrence of the undesirable sequelae that currently comprise the paradigm underlying the disease construct "rheumatoid arthritis."