Rheum Round-up: Phase 3 Baricitinib COVID-19 Trial Kicks Off, Digital RA Monitoring, and more

Here are the top stories recently covered by DocWire News in the Rheumatology section. In this edition, read about the start of a phase 3 trial for baricitinib in COVID-19 patients, the pandemic from the perspective of the rheumatic patient, COVID-19 hospitalization risk correlated with certain medications, and digital technology to monitor arthritis patients.

A phase 3 clinical trial kicked off this week to assess the effectiveness of Eli Lilly and Company’s rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug baricitinib, marketed as Olumiant®, in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the company announced. Lilly expects to enroll about 400 patients in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America in the study, which started dosing participants last week. COVID-19 patients with at least one elevated marker of inflammation but do not require invasive medical ventilation at baseline are eligible for inclusion. Baricitinib is currently approved for active RA patients in 70 countries.

Several recent studies have highlighted the perspectives of patients with rheumatic diseases regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. One paper evaluated their opinions during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. This single-center study recruited patients via text message, which provided the national Rheumatology Association COVID‐19 information sheet and invited patients to be de-identified participants in the survey. The survey garnered information on patient concerns pertaining to risks due to their rheumatic disease or medications, effect of receiving the information on the sheet on medication adherence, and telehealth acceptance. A second survey assessed rheumatic patients treated with biologic/targeted synthetic disease‐modifying anti‐rheumatic drug (ts/bDMARDs) in Italy.

The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and conventional DMARDs did not increase hospitalization risk among rheumatic patients with COVID-19, according to new findings. The present study was a case series of the first 600 patients entered into the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance provider registry (median age, 56 years; 71% were female). Patients were from 40 different countries. The most common diagnosis was RA. Just under half of patients (46%) were hospitalized; 55 patients (9%) died. Multivariable-adjusted models found a correlation between prednisone dose ≥10 mg/day and increased hospitalization risk. Hospitalization risk did not increase with conventional DMARD use, either alone or in combination with biologics/Janus Kinase inhibitors. NSAID use did not increase hospitalization risk, either. Patients using tumor necrosis factor inhibitors had a lower hospitalization risk. Antimalarials were not associated with hospitalization.