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Patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) showed more improvement in symptoms at 6 months with risankizumab (Skyrizi) than with placebo in combined phase 3, randomized, controlled trials, according to data presented at the virtual annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

“Risankizumab was well tolerated and showed no new safety signals over those seen in the trial program for psoriasis,” reported Andrew Östör, MD, of Monash University and Cabrini Hospital, both in Melbourne. The results included pooled data that added KEEPsAKE 1 data to KEEPsAKE 2 results, which were presented at the 2021 congress of the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology.

Risankizumab received Food and Drug Administration approval in 2019 for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in adults who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy. The humanized monoclonal antibody inhibits interleukin-23, which is believed to be involved in the development of PsA. The FDA updated its approval in August 2021 to make it available as a 150-mg single-dose injection instead of two 75-mg doses for psoriasis treatment, ampicillin route and dosage but it is not yet approved for PsA.

The trials included adults with active PsA, active plaque psoriasis or nail psoriasis, and at least five swollen joints and five tender joints. All the participants had an inadequate response or intolerance to at least one conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (csDMARD), and KEEPsAKE 2 included participants who had an inadequate response or intolerance to at least one biologic therapy.

The majority of patients in both groups were taking anti-inflammatory drugs (58.8% with risankizumab vs. 62.1% with placebo) and methotrexate (60% vs. 59.1%, respectively), but a minority were taking oral glucocorticoids (18.2% with risankizumab vs. 15.6% with placebo). A small proportion in both groups were also taking a csDMARD besides methotrexate (11.9% with risankizumab vs. 11.3% with placebo).

Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 150 mg of subcutaneous risankizumab or placebo at baseline, 4 weeks, and 16 weeks with a double-blind protocol. The proportion of patients with 20% improvement in ACR response criteria (ACR 20) at 24 weeks was the primary endpoint. The trial is currently continuing with all participants receiving open-label risankizumab.

The 1,407 patients initially enrolled included 707 receiving risankizumab and 700 receiving placebo across both trials, with similar baseline demographic and disease characteristics in both groups. A total of 1,354 participants completed the 24-week assessments, including 688 receiving risankizumab and 666 receiving placebo. In an intent-to-treat analysis, 55.5% of patients receiving risankizumab and 31.3% of those receiving placebo achieved ACR 20 at week 24 (P < .001). Participants who received risankizumab also had more improvement in secondary clinical and patient-reported outcomes than did those who received placebo. A quarter (25.2%) of risankizumab patients versus 10.6% of placebo patients showed minimal disease activity, and significantly more participants receiving risankizumab than placebo saw resolution of enthesitis, dactylitis, and fatigue.

Adverse events of any kind occurred in 45.5% of risankizumab and 43.9% of placebo participants, with similar numbers of serious adverse events (3% vs. 4.4%, respectively). One death caused by urosepsis in an 81-year-old participant with dementia occurred in the risankizumab group and was determined to be unrelated to the drug.

David Karp, MD, PhD, chief of division of rheumatic diseases at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and ACR president, conducted a question-and-answer session with Östör following his presentation and asked whether a difference in responses was seen between patients who had failed biologic DMARDs. Östör said the response rates were similar independent of which previous therapies the participants had failed.

Regarding where risankizumab, as an IL-23 inhibitor, fits among the options for treating PsA, Östör said “the data speaks for itself” in terms of efficacy with arthritic, musculoskeletal manifestations and the patient-reported outcomes.

“One of the major benefits of these medications is their remarkable effect on skin with psoriasis,” Östör told Karp. Regarding axial response to the drug, Östör noted the statistically significant improvement in Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index, appearing to show a clinical benefit with spinal inflammatory disease. Radiologic data, however, are not currently available for the trials.

Karp noted the recent findings of a phase 2a trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine regarding risankizumab’s poor performance in patients with severe asthma, who experienced worsening symptoms sooner and more rapidly than did those who received placebo. It’s unclear whether any patients in the KEEPsAKE 1 or 2 trials had an asthma diagnosis, but any people with unstable, severe asthma would have been excluded from participation, Östör said.

The research was funded by AbbVie. Östör and colleagues have a range of financial ties to numerous pharmaceutical companies.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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