, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 694-704
Date: 18 Jul 2012

Association of hepatitis B with antirheumatic drugs: a case–control study

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Abstract

Background

Though concern of hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation by antirheumatic agents has limited therapeutic opportunities in HBV-infected rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, the relative risks (RR) among such agents have not been clarified.

Objective

We compared the reporting of antirheumatic-agent-associated hepatitis B.

Patients

We assessed 92 hepatitis B cases and 98,069 controls from a population of 98,161 RA patients registered into the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) adverse event database between 2004 and 2010.

Measurements

A reporting odds ratio (ROR), a signal suggesting a risk for hepatitis B among antirheumatic agents, was measured.

Results

Treatment with corticosteroids [ROR 2.3 (95 % confidence interval 1.3–4.0)], methotrexate [4.9 (3.9–6.0)], rituximab [7.2 (5.3–9.9)], tacrolimus [4.2 (1.5–11.9)], or reporting from Japan [2.2 (1.1–4.2)] were associated with higher signal, whereas adalimumab had a lower ROR [0.2 (0.1–0.4)].

Limitations

There are known limitations of spontaneous reporting, such as underreporting, the Weber effect, reporting bias, indication bias, and limited clinical information such as HBV status.

Conclusions

Adalimumab’s low reporting rate is most likely be due to notoriety. However, the possibility that adalimumab might suppress reactivation of HBV cannot be denied. Until the possibility is clarified in well-designed clinical studies, physicians should use adalimumab cautiously in patients with HBV.