Tocilizumab in patients with new onset polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR-SPARE): a phase 2/3 randomised controlled trial.
Summary: This study evaluated the effect of tocilizumab in the treatment of patients with new onset polymyalgia rheumatica.
Conclusion: In patients with new onset polymyalgia rheumatica, treatment with tocilizumab was effective.
Background: Polymyalgia rheumatica is the second most common inflammatory rheumatic disease of people >50 years. Glucocorticoid therapy is highly effective, but many patients require treatment for several years. Effective glucocorticoid sparing agents are still needed.
Methods: In this double-blind, multi-centre phase 2/3 clinical trial, we randomly assigned 36 patients with new onset polymyalgia rheumatica from three centres to receive subcutaneous tocilizumab (162 mg per week) or placebo for 16 weeks (1:1 ratio). All patients received oral prednisone, tapered from 20 mg to 0 mg over 11 weeks.The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients in glucocorticoid-free remission at week 16; key secondary endpoints, including time to first relapse and cumulative glucocorticoid dose at weeks 16 and 24, were evaluated.
Results: From 20 November 2017 to 28 October 2019 39 patients were screened for eligibility; 19 patients received tocilizumab and 17 placebo. Glucocorticoid-free remission at week 16 was achieved in 12 out of 19 patients on tocilizumab (63.2%) and 2 out of 17 patients receiving placebo (11.8%, p=0.002), corresponding to an OR of 12.9 (95 % CI: 2.2 to 73.6) in favour of tocilizumab. Mean (±SD) time to first relapse was 130±13 and 82±11 days (p=0.007), respectively, and the median (IQR) cumulative glucocorticoid dose was 727 (721-842) mg and 935 (861-1244) mg (p=0.003), respectively. Serious adverse events were observed in five placebo patients and one tocilizumab patient.
Conclusion: In patients with new onset polymyalgia rheumatica undergoing rapid glucocorticoid tapering, tocilizumab was superior to placebo regarding sustained glucocorticoid-free remission, time to relapse and cumulative glucocorticoid dose. Trial registration number: NCT03263715.