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Disease Activity-Guided Stepwise Tapering but Not Discontinuation of Biologics Is a Feasible Therapeutic Strategy for Patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis: Real-World Evidence

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Abstract

Objectives

To analyze the history of biologics usage in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in China and to evaluate the impact of drug reduction and withdrawal on disease activity.

Methods

Drug administration intervals and disease activity indexes in patients with AS who regularly used etanercept (ETN) biosimilars for more than 1 year and those who withdrew the drugs during the same period in a single center were analyzed retrospectively.

Results

A total of 108 patients with AS who used ETN biosimilars for more than a year were recruited in this study for analysis. (1) Overall, 98.1% patients with AS increased the intervals between drug administrations, averaging from 4.57 ± 0.15 days during 0–3 months to 8.53 ± 0.43 days during 3–6 months, and to 10.49 ± 0.39 days during 6–12 months. Compared with the baseline parameters, after 3-month and 12-month treatments disease activities were improved significantly, including Patient Global Assessment (PTGA), overall back pain, nocturnal pain, fatigue, Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score–C-Reactive Protein (ASDAS-CRP), Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI), and Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index (BASFI). (2) Only 59.3% used ETN biosimilars with full dose (3.5 days’ interval) in the first 3 months. At baseline, disease activities of these patients were higher than those with reduced dose (5.9 days’ interval). However, at 12 months of drug administration there was no significant difference in the overall length of drug administration intervals and disease activities between the two groups. (3) Twenty patients with low disease activity (LDA) discontinued therapy spontaneously; after 3 months, 55% of them experienced disease recurrence (∆ASDAS ≥ 0.9).

Conclusion

Spontaneous dose reduction was a common phenomenon among patients with AS in China, which becomes more notable with increasing relief of symptoms. Most patients could maintain an LDA state after dose reduction. Compared with dose reduction, ETN biosimilar withdrawal was more likely to induce disease recurrence. Therefore, disease activity-guided individualized stepwise tapering may become one of the feasible therapeutic strategies for AS in the future.

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Acknowledgements

Funding

The study and the journal’s Rapid Service Fee were supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31821003), National Key Research and Development Project (Grant No. 2018AAA0100302), Shanghai Municipal Key Clinical Specialty (shslczdzk02602), and Shanghai Science and Technology Development Funds (2020-SH-XY-2).

Authorship

All named authors meet the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) criteria for authorship for this article, take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole, and have given their approval for this version to be published.

Authorship Contributions

All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Lingying Ye, Ling Zhou, Jianye Bian, Juan Zhao, Ting Li, Xin Wu and Huji Xu. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Lingying Ye, Ling Zhou, Jianye Bian and Huji Xu. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Disclosures

Lingying Ye, Ling Zhou, Jianye Bian, Juan Zhao, Ting Li, Xin Wu and Huji Xu declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

The study was conducted according to the Helsinki Declaration and approved by the ethics community of Shanghai Changzheng Hospital (ID 2017SL046). All patients gave written informed consent. Participants included in our study provided consent for publication if any identifying information is included in the manuscript.

Data Availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. We thank all the participants participating in our research.

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Correspondence to Huji Xu.

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Ye, L., Zhou, L., Bian, J. et al. Disease Activity-Guided Stepwise Tapering but Not Discontinuation of Biologics Is a Feasible Therapeutic Strategy for Patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis: Real-World Evidence. Adv Ther 39, 1393–1402 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12325-021-01995-1

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