Tocilizumab Boosts Hemoglobin, Hematocrit in RA

Action Points

  • Note that this retrospective study examining a cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis found that the use of the anti-IL-6 agent tocilizumab was associated with improvements in hemoglobin.
  • Hemoglobin levels did not improve among those who were started on the JAK-inhibitor tofacitinib though.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients treated with tocilizumab (Actemra), an interleukin(IL)-6 receptor inhibitor, had significant boosts in their hemoglobin (Hb) and hematocrit (Hct) levels, according to a large real-world data analysis of patients using biologic and non-biologic anti-rheumatic drugs.

Among RA patients treated with tocilizumab, Hb increased an average of 0.23 g/dL (95% CI 0.14-0.42) and Hct increased by 0.96% (95% CI 0.41-1.52) over 24 months, reported Sanjoy Paul, PhD, of the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health in Australia, and colleagues. Among anemic RA patients who were treated with tocilizumab, Hb and Hct increased significantly by 0.72 g/dL and 2.06%, respectively. Patients treated with tocilizumab were 86% more likely to increase Hb ≥ 1 g/dL, compared with patients treated with other anti-rheumatic drugs.

“In patients with RA, treatment with tocilizumab was associated with significant improvement in anemia markers after adjusting for confounding factors, whereas other biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or tofacitinib (Xeljanz) were significantly less effective in improving anemia markers,” the researchers wrote…

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