Background Sirukumab, a human monoclonal antibody that selectively binds to the interleukin-6 cytokine with high affinity, is under development for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. We aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of sirukumab for rheumatoid arthritis in a phase 3 study (SIRROUND-T). Methods We did a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, multicentre study at 183 hospitals and private rheumatology clinics in 20 countries (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, UK, and USA). Eligible participants were patients with active rheumatoid arthritis aged at least 18 years, with four or more of 68 tender joints and four or more of 66 swollen joints, who were refractory or intolerant to previous treatment with at least one anti-TNF drug. We randomly assigned patients (1:1:1) via a central interactive voice or web response system to either placebo every 2 weeks, 50 mg sirukumab every 4 weeks, or 100 mg sirukumab every 2 weeks, all given for 52 weeks or less. We allowed participants to continue using any concomitant disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). We based the randomisation on a computer-generated, permuted-block schedule stratified by use of methotrexate at baseline (0, >0 to <12·5 mg/week, or ≥12·5 mg/week). Masking was achieved with the use of multipart labels on the study drug containers which contained directions for use and other information, but not the drug's identity. Treatments were administered by subcutaneous injection; patients assigned to 50 mg sirukumab given every 4 weeks also received a placebo injection every 2 weeks to maintain masking. At week 18, placebo-treated patients meeting early escape criteria (<20% improvement in swollen and tender joint counts) were randomly reassigned to either 50 mg or 100 mg of sirukumab. All remaining placebo-treated patients were subsequently randomly reassigned at week 24 to either sirukumab dose (crossover). The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who achieved a response of at least 20% improvement at week 16 according to American College of Rheumatology criteria (ACR20) in the intention-to-treat population (all randomly assigned participants). Safety analyses included all participants who received at least one dose (partial or complete) of study drug. This study is registered at EudraCT (number: 2010-022243-38) and ClinicalTrials.gov (number: NCT01606761). Findings Between July 25, 2012, and Jan 12, 2016, we randomly assigned 878 patients to treatment: 294 to placebo, 292 to 50 mg sirukumab every 4 weeks, and 292 to 100 mg sirukumab every 2 weeks. 523 (60%) of 878 patients had previously received two or more biological treatments including non-TNF drugs, and 166 (19%) of 878 were not taking a DMARD at baseline. The proportions of patients who achieved an ACR20 response at week 16 were 117 (40%) of 292 with 50 mg sirukumab every 4 weeks, and 132 (45%) of 292 with 100 mg sirukumab every 2 weeks versus 71 (24%) of 294 with placebo; differences compared with placebo were 0·16 (95% CI 0·09–0·23) for 50 mg sirukumab every 4 weeks and 0·21 (0·14–0·29) for 100 mg sirukumab every 2 weeks (both p<0·0001). Adverse event incidences in the 24-week placebo-controlled period were similar across groups (at least one event occurred for 182 patients assigned to placebo [62%, including early escape patients switched to sirukumab at week 18] of 294; 194 [66%] of 292 with 50 mg sirukumab every 4 weeks; and 207 [71%] of 292 with 100 mg sirukumab every 2 weeks). The most common adverse events in this period were injection-site erythema (four [1%] with placebo, 22 [8%] with 50 mg sirukumab every 4 weeks, and 41 [14%] with 100 mg sirukumab every 2 weeks). At week 52, of all patients receiving sirukumab including those reassigned from placebo, the most common adverse events were again injection-site erythema (33 [8%] of 416 with 50 mg sirukumab every 4 weeks and 66 [16%] of 418 with 100 mg sirukumab every 2 weeks). Interpretation In patients with active rheumatoid arthritis who were refractory or intolerant to anti-TNF drugs and other biological treatments, both dosing regimens of sirukumab were well tolerated and significantly improved signs and symptoms of the disease, compared with placebo, in this difficult-to-treat population. Funding Janssen Research & Development, LLC, and GlaxoSmithKline.
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