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26-04-2022 | Rheumatology | News | Article

BSR 2022 in brief

COVID-19: Support for pausing rituximab, considering other treatments in people with RA

Author: Claire Barnard

medwireNews: Study findings presented at the British Society for Rheumatology 2022 Annual Conference in Glasgow, UK, provide support for pausing or delaying rituximab and considering other treatment options for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

James Kimpton and colleagues evaluated data from 222 rituximab-treated patients with RA who attended University College London Hospital in the UK in 2020–2022. Of the 34 people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, 61.7% were hospitalized and 42.9% required admission to intensive care units (ICU) or high dependency units (HDU).

Among hospitalized patients, those who required ICU/HDU care had a significantly longer median time between their last rituximab infusion and diagnosis of COVID-19 than those not admitted to the ICU, at approximately 6 versus 3 months. Logistic regression analysis showed that having an interval of 3 months or less was significantly associated with requiring ICU/HDU admission.

In accordance with previous studies, the team also identified an association between the timing of rituximab therapy and vaccination response. Patients with a serologic response to their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine had a significantly longer median interval since their last rituximab infusion, at approximately 12 months versus 7 months for those with negative serology.

Therefore, “pausing or delaying [rituximab] and use of alternative therapies to maintain disease control should be considered” in patients with RA, said Kimpton, while acknowledging that the risks and benefits need to be addressed “on an individual basis.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2022 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

26 April 2022: The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all healthcare professionals across the globe. Medicine Matters’ focus, in this difficult time, is the dissemination of the latest data to support you in your research and clinical practice, based on the scientific literature. We will update the information we provide on the site, as the data are published. However, please refer to your own professional and governmental guidelines for the latest guidance in your own country.

BSR Annual Conference 2022; Glasgow, UK: 25–27 April

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