New Arthritis Drug Approved

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis.actemra-greek

The drug, named Actemra, is manufactured by Genentech, a unit of Roche Holding AG. It is already approved for use in Europe and Japan. (picture shows Actemra bottle in Greece)

The medicine works by blocking the activity of a protein called interleukin-6 that, when overly abundant in the body, causes inflammation in the joints associated with arthritis. It is the first drug to use this approach.

It will be an alternative to the following drugs: Remicade by Johnson & Johnson, Humira by Abbott, Enbrel by Pfizer and Roche’s very own Rituxan. These drugs are called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) inhibitor drugs. Around 30-50% of patients do not respond to these drugs.

Rheumatoid Arthritis causes pain, swelling and damage to joints. Around 1.3 million Americans suffer from this ailment.

The drug will become available by January 18 and will cost around $1,060 to $2,125 a month, depending on the dosage.