Cost Shifting May Make Arthritis Medications Too Expensive For Medicare Beneficiaries

Biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab are effective at reducing symptoms and slowing progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These drugs act more quickly, require less laboratory monitoring, and are better tolerated than nonbiologic DMARDs, but they are also up to 100 times more expensive. Insurance plans differ greatly in their coverage of and cost sharing for biologic DMARDs, sometimes shifting a large portion of the cost of patients. A new study examined the cost-sharing structures for biologic DMARDs in Part D plans and the resulting cost burden to patients. The study was published in the June issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

In 2003, Congress created the Medicare Replacement Drug Demonstration (MRDD) to provide temporary drug insurance until the start of Medicare Part D in 2006. The MRDD, which ran September 2004 – December 2005, targeted low-income vulnerable Medicare patients with select conditions, including RA, who did not have comprehensive drug insurance coverage. This program had similar cost-sharing arrangements to Medicare Part D and evaluations showed that it reduced financial barriers and improved health outcomes. However, unlike the MRDD, Part D plans could place high-cost items such as biologic DMARDs in a specialty tier, where they are subject to higher patient cost sharing. There is concern that specialty tiering imposes a heavy financial burden on RA patients.

Led by Jennifer M. Polinski of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, researchers followed almost 15,000 vulnerable, low-income patients who were enrolled in the MRDD as they transitioned into Part D in 2006. They grouped patients into one of three drug coverage options: enrollment in a Part D plan further stratified by a Medicare Advantage or stand-alone plan, other creditable coverage or unknown coverage. They examined the benefit design of each plan, as well as potential differences in beneficiaries’ annual out-of-pocket costs for biologic DMARDs under three coverage scenarios.

They found that 81 percent of poor and disabled Medicare beneficiaries with RA who participated in the MRDD program had enrolled in Part D plans by July 2006. Compared with stand-alone Part D plans, Medicare Advantage plans offered lower deductibles, lower premiums, and were more likely to require copayments (which are fixed), rather than coinsurance (typically a percentage paid by the insured person pays after an insurance deductible has been exceeded). They also placed significantly fewer restrictions on biologic DMARD reimbursement. “In spite of the greater generosity and lesser restrictions of Medicare Advantage plans, the most sick and most financially needy patients enrolled in these plans less often than they did in stand-alone plans,” the authors note.

Most patients enrolled in plans that placed biologic DMARDs on high-cost specialty tiers and used coinsurance proportions as high as 75 percent. The specialty tier was created to ensure that beneficiaries receiving high-cost biologic agents were not discriminated against in terms of cost sharing, but there is concern about the financial impact of this structure, especially the widespread use of high coinsurance. The study found that Part D plans that require coinsurance instead of copayments shift the financial burden of these high-cost medications from the plan to the patient and to Medicare. In plans where cost sharing is high (e.g. plans with high coinsurance), patients may delay or not even begin therapy due to the high cost; in plans with cost sharing that is steep but manageable (e.g. plans with high copayments) patients may begin therapy but then discontinue it when faced with paying the full cost of the medication out of pocket. “Neither scenario is optimal for patients who may benefit from biologic DMARDs,” the authors point out.

Specialty tier and coinsurance resulted in estimated annual expenditures for patients that exceeded $4,000 despite drug insurance coverage and more Part D plans have adopted specialty tiering over time. In 2006, 60 percent of the national stand-alone plans used this system but by 2008, 87 percent were using it. Similarly, between 2006 and 2008 the number of plans charging 33 percent coinsurance increased more than five-fold. “Patients assume up to 28 percent and Medicare assumes more than 58 percent of the costs of biologic DMARDs in our scenarios, yet neither is in a position to sustain such financial burden,” the authors conclude. “As more biologic DMARDs are approved and used for RA and more plans use the specialty tier system, both beneficiaries and Medicare face costs they may be increasingly unable to afford.”

Article: “Impact of Medicare Part D on Access to and Cost Sharing for Specialty Biologic Medications for Beneficiaries with Rheumatoid Arthritis,” Jennifer M. Polinski, Penny E. Mohr, Lorraine Johnson, Arthritis & Rheumatism (Arthritis Care & Research), June 2009.

Source:
Sean Wagner

Wiley-Blackwell

Sanford-Burnham Announces Collaboration With Ortho-McNeil-Janssen To Discover New Medicines For Alzheimer’s Disease And Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) has entered into a collaboration with Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., (OMJPI) to discover compounds for Alzheimer’s disease and major psychiatric disorders. Under the agreement, multi-disciplinary teams from Sanford-Burnham and OMJPI will collaborate to identify and validate new targets for drug discovery and will seek compounds suitable for lead optimization and further development by OMJPI.

OMJPI gains exclusive access for a three-year term to a multi-disciplinary team of world-class scientists and a translational infrastructure dedicated to finding new approaches to treating patients with devastating neurological and psychiatric conditions.

For Sanford-Burnham, the collaboration with researchers at a major pharmaceutical company will help the Institute achieve its mission of translating high-impact science into important new therapies. “This represents the first of what we expect to be a series of thematic collaborations that focus our tremendous scientific and translational firepower on major unmet medical problems. Working in concert with strong partners, we can bridge the gap between early- and late-stage drug development,” said Dr. John Reed, CEO of Sanford-Burnham.

Sanford-Burnham will also receive funding including: upfront and yearly access fees, funding of discovery research in the field, milestone payments and royalties for successfully developed products. A joint steering committee will oversee the collaboration, which includes a drug discovery team funded by OMJPI in the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics (CPCCG) at Sanford-Burnham.

CPCCG is Sanford-Burnham’s state-of-the-art screening facility established by the National Institutes of Health as part of a national effort to accelerate the rate of commercialization of basic research by generating small molecule probes that can be used to develop a pipeline of drugs to treat unmet medical needs. Sanford-Burnham’s drug discovery capabilities include: ultra high-throughput screening; high content screening; phenotypic screening; and target deconvolution technologies. CPCCG is led and staffed by industry-trained professionals who work closely with Sanford-Burnham investigators and industry collaborators to assist them in translating their scientific findings into actionable projects for new drug discovery.

“This agreement sets the stage for Sanford-Burnham to fully leverage the drug discovery infrastructure the Institute has put into place over the last five years,” said Dr. Michael Jackson, Vice President, Drug Discovery and Development at Sanford-Burnham.

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. Recent estimates from the Alzheimer’s Association put the number of people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s at 5.3 million. While four drugs that temporarily improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients are on the market, currently, there is no treatment available to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Major psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia, are a huge burden on society. These conditions have their onset in adolescence or early adulthood, and impair overall health as well as the ability to learn, work and function in society. According to the National Institute of Mental Health 2.3 million adult Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, a condition associated with profound alterations of mood. Similar to other chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder and other major psychiatric illnesses must be treated and managed throughout a person’s life.

Source:

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Autism Walk Expects 15,000 People

Thousands will unite for autism at the 8th annual Los Angeles Walk Now for Autism Speaks at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, Saturday, April 24, 2010.

Powered by volunteers and families with loved ones on the autism spectrum, this fundraising effort generates vital funds for autism research, awareness and family services. Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disorder, with 1% of the population affected.

Celebrity walk attendees include:

- Rodney Peete: former USC quarterback and NFL player, author of “Not My Boy!”
- Holly Robinson Peete: actress, co-author of “My Brother Charlie” and Autism Speaks National Board Member
- James Denton, star of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”
- Ryan Wynott, star of ABC’s “Flash Forward”
- Dennis Zine, Los Angeles City Councilman

ABC7 morning news anchor Phillip Palmer will once again serve as the Master of Ceremonies. Members of the media are invited to attend the event, interview and photograph participants, volunteers and special guests. Registration begins at 8 a.m., the opening ceremony is at 9:30 a.m. and the walk kicks off at 10 a.m.

About Walk Now For Autism Speaks

The 8th annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks 2010 event will take place April 24, 2010 in Pasadena. Last year’s walk hosted 17,000 people and raised 1.27M at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Walk Now for Autism Speaks is North America’s largest grassroots autism walk. walknowforautism

About Autism

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), autism now affects 1% or 1 in every 110 American children, including 1 in 70 boys. Autism is a complex condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges.

Source
Autism Speaks

Celgene Announces Positive Top Line Data From Randomized Controlled Phase II Study Of Apremilast In Psoriatic Arthritis

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) announced the preliminary results of a phase II, multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, three-arm study of apremilast – a novel, orally available small molecule that exhibits anti- inflammatory activities through the suppression of multiple pro-inflammatory mediators and cytokines – in adult patients with psoriatic arthritis (CC-10004-PSA-001). The study met its primary objective of assessment of ACR20 at 12 weeks. ACR20 is defined as the percentage of patients achieving a 20% or better improvement according to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. ACR20 is the primary assessment utilized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for assessment of efficacy in psoriatic arthritis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis.

The study sought to determine the efficacy and safety of apremilast in 204 patients at two different dose regimens – 20mg twice per day and 40mg once per day – compared to placebo after 12 weeks. In the study, both apremilast treatment arms had a significant improvement in their ACR20 outcome versus placebo: 43.5% of patients in the 20 mg twice daily arm and 35.8% of patients in the 40 mg once daily arm achieved an ACR20 compared to 11.8% of patients in the placebo arm.

In addition, the study measured secondary 12-week endpoints including ACR50 and ACR70, defined as the percentage of patients achieving 50% and 70% improvements respectively according to ACR criteria. These measures are utilized to demonstrate clinical benefit for patients in addition to the primary regulatory measure of ACR20. The 12-week ACR50 was 17.4% in the 20mg twice daily arm, 13.4% in the 40 mg once daily arm, and 2.9% in the placebo arm. The 12-week ACR70 was 5.8% in the 20 mg twice daily arm, 7.5% in the 40 mg once daily arm, and 1.5% in the placebo arm.

The five most common adverse events reported in the study were nausea, diarrhea, headache, nasopharyngitis and fatigue. Additionally, there was not a significant difference in infections between apremilast and placebo. In the study 9, 6 and 3 percent of patients discontinued treatment due to adverse events while 9, 0 and 18 percent discontinued due to lack of efficacy in the 20 mg twice daily, 40 mg once daily and placebo groups, respectively.

“The positive data from this phase II study are encouraging indicators of the potential of apremilast as an innovative oral treatment that may fill a significant unmet need in this debilitating disease,” said Randall M. Stevens, MD, Vice President and Head of Immunology and Inflammation Clinical Development for Celgene. “The activity of apremilast has now been demonstrated in studies of both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis including a favorable safety and tolerability profile. Based on these results, we plan to actively pursue registration studies in psoriatic arthritis as a part of our larger development plan in inflammatory diseases.”

Based on our evaluation of other ongoing trials, Celgene plans to initiate pivotal phase III studies that include doses of 20 mg twice a day, as well as 30 mg twice a day to optimize the therapeutic potential of apremilast. This dosing schedule is also being investigated in a phase IIb study initiated in February 2008 in moderate-to-severe plaque-type psoriasis with results expected in the first half of 2010.

In addition to the planned psoriatic arthritis pivotal program, a phase III study of apremilast in moderate-to-severe plaque-type psoriasis is anticipated to begin in 2010, pending the results of the phase IIb trial. Apremilast is also currently being investigated in a phase II study in recalcitrant plaque-type psoriasis with data expected in the first quarter of 2010. A number of investigator-initiated trials are ongoing in cutaneous lupus, prurigo nodularis, ankylosing spondylitis, erosive osteoarthritis, cutaneous sarcoidosis and a number of other inflammatory conditions.

About Apremilast

Apremilast is a novel, orally available small molecule compound that exhibits anti-inflammatory activities through the suppression of multiple pro-inflammatory mediators including, TNF-alpha, interleukins 6, 17 & 23, and interferon-gamma among others. Apremilast is the lead investigational anti-inflammatory compound in the Celgene Inflammation Franchise, and is in phase II clinical development for the treatment of psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and in proof of concept trials in other inflammatory diseases.

About Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects more than a million people in the U.S. and Europe. This debilitating condition causes pain, stiffness and swelling in and around the joints, as well as joint destruction. This data positions apremilast as an innovative oral treatment, with the potential to fill a significant unmet need in this disease category.

Source
Celgene Corporation

New Research Discovers Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Are Not Susceptible To Contagious Yawning

New research by Birkbeck researcher Dr Atsushi Senju, in the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development has shown for the first time that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are not susceptible to contagious yawning. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability that severely affects social interaction and communication including empathy. Contagious yawning is when yawning is triggered by perceiving others’ yawns and is thought to share similar cognitive and neural mechanisms as empathy.

‘This is the first report that a neuropsychological or psychiatric condition can selectively impair contagious yawning, sparing spontaneous yawning,’ said Dr Senju. ‘Our study confirms the prediction of ‘empathy theory’, by demonstrating that individuals with autism, who show atypical developments in empathy, also show selective impairment in contagious yawning.’

Dr Senju, and colleagues from the University of Tokyo, showed videos of people yawning or making mouth movements to 24 children with autism spectrum disorder and to 25 normally developing children. In the tests both groups of children yawned about the same amount while watching the video of general mouth movements. Whereas the normally developing children yawned more in front of the video showing people yawning, whilst the autistic group did not increase their yawning frequency.

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UNICEF To Provide Support To Nearly One Million Children Affected By Earthquake In Chile

UNICEF will provide assistance to the estimated one million children and their families affected by the earthquake in Chile which struck on 27 February. It is unclear how much more damage the second quake today has caused, but the first quake followed by a tsunami caused widespread damage and over 500 deaths. Six regions, home to some 80 per cent of the population of Chile were affected by the quake. The government had declared these regions as “catastrophe zones”.

The worst affected areas are some of the poorest in the country. Roads have been cut off, and entire villages in the coastal zones were wiped out by the Tsunami. Government buildings, schools, health facilities and at least 500,000 homes have been destroyed or badly damaged.

“As in any disaster, children are the ones suffering most. They are particularly vulnerable to cold, hunger and outbreaks of disease. Their lives have been brutally disrupted and many of them will have difficulty coping with such an upheaval. We must help them now,” said Gary Stahl, UNICEF Representative in Chile.

UNICEF is asking for $3.5 million to meet the immediate and medium-term needs of children and women throughout the affected areas. Assistance will include psychosocial support, emergency education and water and sanitation. UNICEF is working closely with the new government of Chile which was sworn in today.

Source
UNICEF

Tobacco Smoke Has Harmful Impact On Asthma, Rhinitis And Immunity

Tobacco smoke is involved in uncontrolled asthma, a diminished response to anti-asthma drugs, rhinitis, nasal obstruction, and deregulation of the immune system according to an international expert at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Miami Beach, Fla.

Tobacco smoking has been mainly associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and is attributed to being one of the main reasons that COPD disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

“Recent studies have shown that smoking can be linked with other respiratory diseases such as asthma exacerbations and rhinitis,” said Carlos Baena-Cagnani, M.D., faculty of medicine, at Catholic University of Cordoba in Argentina. “Both active and passive smoking has been shown to be involved in uncontrolled asthma and associated with asthma exacerbations in children and adolescents.”

According to Dr. Baena-Cagnani, active smoking also causes changes in inflammation in asthma patients, diminishes their response to anti-asthma drugs, and has been found to induce nasal obstruction and decreased mucociliary clearance.

“The message is that smoking is a risk factor for the inception of asthma in allergic rhinitis patients, and it should be discouraged in patients with rhinitis,” he said. “There is increasing and compelling evidence that respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD, are also related to a deregulation of the immune system, especially the innate (natural) immunity.”

According to the latest World Health Organization statistics, currently 300 million people have asthma, and 210 million people have COPD, while millions have allergic rhinitis and other often under-diagnosed chronic respiratory diseases, Dr. Baena-Cagnani said.

“The impact of tobacco smoking is huge, with over one billion people exposed to unhealthy air in which tobacco smoking plays a major role,” he said.

Current statistics show that approximately 20 percent of U.S. adults are smokers, and more than half of them have the desire to quit according to a “Smoking Cessation Toolbox for Allergists” recently published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, ACAAI’s scientific journal. Surveys indicate that a physician’s advice to quit is an important motivator to quit smoking. “Screening, providing brief counseling, and prescribing first-line smoking cessation medications will help the United States get closer to achieving the national goal laid out in Healthy People 2010 of smoking rates of 12 percent or less” the investigators report.

“Allergists are aware of the significant impact that tobacco addiction has on our patients, and we are committed to initiating and reinforcing smoking cessation as part of our treatment plan,” said Richard G. Gower, M.D., an allergist/immunologist at Marycliff Allergy Specialists in Spokane, Wash., and president of ACAAI.

“We play an important role in advocating for children exposed to harmful second-hand smoke. Removing smoking as an impact factor, especially for asthma patients, improves their response to therapy and results in healthier patients.”

An allergist, an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma, can perform allergy testing to identify the specific substances that trigger allergic reactions and determine the most appropriate and effective treatment.

Source
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)

Christmas Merriment Can Trigger Asthma – National Asthma Council Australia

The National Asthma Council Australia is warning the two million plus Aussies with asthma to approach Christmas with caution this year as the season’s many hidden asthma triggers could be enough to start you wheezing.

In fact, according to the Council, Christmas this year could be particularly problematic with the hay fever season lingering due to recent rains and a prolonged grass growing season and widespread thunderstorm activity, which can stir up pollen in the air, increasing its potency.

Even the humble Christmas tree – real and fake – can harbour hidden asthma triggers.

“Most people are unaware that Cypress and pine trees produce high amounts of pollen and pollen can trigger hay fever symptoms and asthma, especially when the trees are displayed indoors,” Kristine Whorlow, National Asthma Council Australia Chief Executive Officer said.

“Artificial trees may seem like a safe alternative, but these trees are often used year after year and they can accumulate dust and even mould in storage and both of these are common asthma triggers.”

To minimise the Christmas wheeze, the National Asthma Council Australia recommends vacuuming artificial trees and decorations as you get them out of the box, unpacking them outside if possible and wiping down artificial trees before putting them up inside.

Other potential triggers that are likely to be encountered during the festive season include dusty decorations, highly scented candles and extremes of emotions including stress and laughter.

“If you have asthma it’s important to be aware of your asthma triggers and avoid them if possible. You should also continue to follow the personal written asthma action plan that you have developed with your doctor,” Kristine Whorlow advised.

“At this time of the year, make sure you have your medication with you and take it as advised by your doctor, even if you are out partying or away on holidays.”

Christmas Asthma Triggers Include:

Christmas Trees

Natural Christmas trees may harbour pollen and artificial trees can be a major dust trap and may also accumulate mould – all three can trigger asthma in susceptible people.

Decorations

Have the vacuum on hand when you unpack last year’s box of decorations. Ideally, unpack them outside and clean before use. If you are attached to your soft decorations, such as Christmas-themed soft toys or felt stockings, you can put them in the freezer overnight before use to kill dust mites.

Outdoor Parties

The office break up in the park or Christmas Day under the Aussie sun could spell trouble for some people as there is still a lot of pollen floating around, particularly on windy days, which can trigger asthma and hay fever.

Scented Candles

Scented candles have become one of the most popular Christmas gifts and atmospheric decorations. Unfortunately, for some people with asthma, the perfume in scented candles may trigger symptoms. It’s a good idea to check if anyone you’re giving such a gift to has their asthma symptoms triggered by odour, however pleasant.

Emotions

Christmas is a time of many emotions. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, but it can also be the season for added pressures and stress as the year races to a close and that Christmas deadline looms. Stress and anxiety can be a trigger for asthma as can other intense emotions such as yelling, crying and laughing.

Source:

National Asthma Council Australia

Endogenous Stem Cells Activators, Inc. Announces The Availability Of KRONOS IV In The Treatment Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Endogenous Stem Cells Activators, Inc. is a new Nevada Corporation whose main asset is KRONOS IV.

KRONOS IV is a drug that activates the dormant stem cells in the brain of AD patients, and coaxes them through a process of neurogenesis, as evidenced by the presence of growth factors (GFs) into becoming active neurons.

These cells can repair or rebuild the hippocampus, an area of the brain where memory is located, that is severely damaged by the AD.

KRONOS IV is based upon a drug(s) presently available on the market that had been approved by the FDA for a different claim.

As such KRONOS IV would be available to the AD patients upon prescription by a physician, based upon the off-label regulations that allow physicians to prescribe drugs for medical conditions, other than the one approved by the FDA.

We have reasons to believe that KRONOS IV will be available before the end of the year, at a tentative price of $1200 a month, or a total of $7200 for six months treatment.

KRONOS IV in its initial phases had been used by 10-12 physicians in the US and France who reported impressive results in the areas of memory, attention, orientation, also in controlling incontinences, and most importantly in improving the Quality of Life (QoL) of the AD’s family members living under a continuous high stress.

First KRONOS results had been reported at the Second International Symposium on Stress, Monte Carlo, Monaco November 21st, 1979 honored by the participation of four Nobel Prize winners, Dr. Jonas Salk and top scientists from 10+ countries.

Subsequently a positive commentary about KRONOS presentation at the Symposium had been published in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association), April 25th, 1980.

KRONOS IV is our response to the call for help, now, from the families of the 5.3 million patients with AD, who know well that in the next 4-5 years, few if any survivors would be around, plus another 5.3 MM new AD patients that would be entering the Alzheimer’s inferno, soon.

Dr. Alfred T. Sapse, the developer of KRONOS IV, is a veteran since 1962 in the field of AD and aging, first in his native country Romania, and in the US where he succeeded in introducing the Romanian anti-aging drug Gerovital H3, now used by tens of thousands. He has received two US patents on Alzheimer’s, and as President of Stem Cell Pharma, Inc., a Nevada corporation formed in 2005, he has developed a new technique of implanting stem cells from the amniotic membrane of the placenta, a technique used abroad in the treatment of medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s and aging.

Source
Endogenous Stem Cells Activators, Inc.

Positive preliminary results from 2nd pivotal CDP870 Phase III Trial in rheumatoid arthritis

UCB Pharma today announces positive preliminary results from the second Phase III clinical trial with CDP-870 in rheumatoid arthritis (“Study 011″). CDP-870 was designed and developed by Celltech, which recently became part of UCB. Study 011 assessed the safety and efficacy of CDP-870 as monotherapy on signs and symptoms of disease over a six month period in patients who had active moderate to severe disease despite previous treatment with methotrexate and other disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (“DMARDs”).

This study met its primary endpoint, as assessed by the number of patients achieving a 20% reduction in the American College of Rheumatology score (“ACR20 response”) at 24 weeks. A significant ACR20 response was seen at week 1 in the study, the first time point, and was maintained for the duration of the study. Adverse events in Study 011 were consistent with those seen in previous studies with CDP-870.

Roch Doliveux, Chief Executive Officer of UCB Pharma, commented: “CDP-870 has now clearly demonstrated its safety and efficacy, since we obtained positive results in both monotherapy and combination therapy Phase III clinical trials in rheumatoid arthritis. Our focus going forward is on developing a more patient-friendly formulation and delivery system, as well as further enhancing the competitive profile of this very promising drug.”

Concurrently, UCB Pharma continues to progress rapidly the double-blinded Phase III trials with CDP-870 in Crohn’s disease for which enrolment will be completed by the end of the year.
CDP-870 is the first anti-TNF-alpha pegylated antibody fragment (FAb) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease; this confers the molecule with unique properties in terms of affinity, selectivity and duration of action.

Full results will be released after conclusion of the entire RA Phase III programme.

UCB Pharma is part of the UCB Group of companies, a global pharmaceutical and specialty chemical company with headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. UCB Pharma is a leading biopharmaceutical company, specialising in the fields of central nervous system disorders, allergy and respiratory disease, immune and inflammatory disorders and oncology. UCB Pharma’s key products are Keppra® (antiepileptic), Xyzal® and Zyrtec® (antiallergics), Nootropil® (cerebral function regulator), and Tussionex® (antitussive). UCB Pharma employs over 8,000 people operating in over 100 countries, and in 2003 achieved sales of ?1.5 billion.

Information:

UCB – Press contacts
Laurence Battaille Tel.: +32 (2) 559 95 88
Head of Corporate Communication
Brunswick
Jon Coles Tel.: +44 (0)20 7404 5959
Wendel Carson Tel. :+44 (0)20 7404 5959