American Thyroid Association

American Thyroid Association

Perspective from Kenneth D. Burman, MD
October 22, 2013
3 min read

Rituximab outperformed steroids in Graves’ ophthalmopathy

Perspective from Kenneth D. Burman, MD
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Despite data presented earlier at the American Thyroid Association Annual Meeting showing that rituximab was not effective in treating Graves’ ophthalmopathy, another presenter here said that the drug does improve disease state when compared with methylprednisolone.

“Response to rituximab was as high as 93%, compared to 69% observed after IV steroid,” Mario Salvi, MD, from the University of Milan in Italy, said. “Preliminary evidence of NOSPECS class 2 signs shows improvement after rituximab.”

Similar to the study presented earlier at the meeting, Salvi said the primary endpoint was a change of two or more points in the clinical activity score (CAS) at 24 weeks. Secondary endpoint was a reduction of disease severity by at least two NOSPECS classes.

Inclusion criteria included euthyroid for at least 6 to 8 weeks and affected by active Graves’ ophthalmopathy. Any previous steroid treatments had to be stopped at least 3 months before study inclusion.

Patients were randomly assigned to IV methylprednisolone (n=16; mean age, 50.4 years) or rituximab (Rituxan, Genentech; n=16; mean age, 51.9 years). In both groups, six patients had received previous steroid treatment. Originally, Salvi said, patients in the rituximab group were receiving 1,000 mg in two doses, but after two adverse reactions, they lowered the dosage to 500 mg. There was no difference between these two treatment dosages at 24 weeks.

At 12 weeks, the difference between the two groups was not significant, but at 24 weeks, 93% of patients in the rituximab group improved, as compared with 69% of the steroid group (P<.02).

“Rituximab was more effective than IV methyprednisolone in inactivating Graves’ orbitopathy, as assessed at 24 weeks,” Salvi said. “Graves’ orbitopathy remained invariably inactive after rituximab during follow-up.”

The researchers are confident in the response seen from methylprednisolone as it is as high as seen in recently published studies, Salvi said.

These results were preliminary and final analysis is expected shortly, he added.

For more information:

Salvi M. Clinical: Graves’ Disease. Presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association; October 16-20, 2013; San Juan, Puerto Rico.

European Clinical trial: EudraCT 2007-003910-33

Disclosure: Salvi reports no relevant financial relationships.