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Bone-building drug helpful in rheumatoid arthritis

ArthritisMay 18, 06

Zoledronic acid, used to inhibit the breakdown of bone and ward off the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, could also be helpful to people with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers report.

According to the results of a small proof-of-concept study, zoledronic acid—also known as zoledronate or Aclasta—increases the benefits seen when treating early rheumatoid arthritis with the standard drug, methotrexate.

As reported in the medical journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, Dr. Paul Emery, from Chapel Allerton Hospital in Leeds, UK, and colleagues used MRI scans to assess joint erosions in 39 patients with early rheumatoid arthritis who were assigned to receive placebo or zoledronic infusions in addition to methotrexate therapy.

The average change in hand and wrist erosions after 26 weeks was 61 percent lower in the zoledronate group than in the comparison group, the researchers report.

Moreover, the average increase in the number of affected hand and wrist bones was just 0.3 with zoledronate compared with 1.4 with placebo.

Zoledronate was well tolerated with a safety profile comparable to that of placebo, the report indicates.

These findings “suggest that zoledronic acid may be a useful addition to current therapy for rheumatoid arthritis,” Emery’s team concludes.

SOURCE: Arthritis and Rheumatism, May 2006.

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