Objective To evaluate the efficacy of denosumab in suppressing joint destruction when added to conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (csDMARD) therapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Methods This was a multi-centre, randomised, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled phase 3 study in Japan. Patients with RA aged ≥20 years receiving csDMARDs were randomly assigned (1:1:1) to denosumab 60 mg every 3 months (Q3M), denosumab 60 mg every 6 months (Q6M) or placebo. The change in the modified total Sharp score (mTSS) and effect on bone mineral density (BMD) at 12 months was evaluated. Results In total, 654 patients received the trial drugs. Denosumab groups showed significantly less progression of joint destruction. The mean changes in the mTSS at 12 months were 1.49 (95% CI 0.99 to 1.99) in the placebo group, 0.99 (95% CI 0.49 to 1.49) in the Q6M group (p=0.0235) and 0.72 (95% CI 0.41 to 1.03) in the Q3M group (p=0.0055). The mean changes in bone erosion score were 0.98 (95% CI 0.65 to 1.31) in the placebo group, 0.51 (95% CI 0.22 to 0.80) in the Q6M group (p=0.0104) and 0.22 (95% CI 0.09 to 0.34) in the Q3M group (p=0.0001). No significant between-group difference was observed in the joint space narrowing score. The per cent change in lumbar spine (L1-L4) BMD in the placebo, Q6M and Q3M groups were -1.03%, 3.99% (p<0.0001) and 4.88% (p<0.0001). No major differences were observed among safety profiles. Conclusions Denosumab inhibits the progression of joint destruction, increases BMD and is well tolerated in patients with RA taking csDMARD.
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