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Study Finds 28 Percent of Patients Resistant to Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug

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More than a quarter of patients who took the arthritis drug Humira developed a resistance that rendered the drug ineffective, according to new research published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers in The Netherlands followed 272 Humira patients for three years and found that 28 percent developed antibodies, which stopped it from working. Among those who developed antibodies, only 13 percent got relief of their symptoms from the drug.

Patients who took Humira with methotrexate, another arthritis drug and an immunosuppressant, were less likely to develop any antibodies.

Nearly half of the group that did not develop antibodies experienced significant relief of their arthritis symptoms from taking Humira while among those who developed antibodies, only 13 percent got any kind of relief.

While 34 percent of patients without antibodies experienced remission, only four percent of those who developed antibodies did.

"Not only did patients with anti-[Humira] antibodies discontinue treatment more often and earlier than patients without ... antibodies, they also had a higher disease activity during treatment and only rarely came into remission," the study authors wrote.

Humira, made by Abbott Laboratories, is approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.