TNF Inhibitor is Safe and Effective, According to Study Conclusions

New research funded by the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases concludes that a category of biologic drugs used to treat juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) are not linked to an increased risk for cancer. Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi) are a popular treatment option for JIA, which causes joint inflammation, as well as fever, rashes, and eye inflammation. While some evidence suggested a link to increased risk of malignancy, the association has been inconclusive. This investigation, conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, was undertaken to study the possible connection. “…lingering concerns about a possible increased risk of malignancy may limit the use of TNFi in clinical practice,” commented lead author Timothy Beukelman, MD, MSCE.

The study compared rates of cancer in children with JIA who were treated with TNFi to a cohort of JIA patients who received a different treatment. The team found no significantly elevated risk of incident malignancy in the former group, compared to the latter. The authors noted that their findings confirmed similar conclusions from studies of adults with rheumatoid arthritis. Dr Beukelman observed, “Because childhood malignancy is very rare, it is difficult to attain the final, definitive answer, but I believe that the initial worries about TNFi and malignancy have been sufficiently diminished.” The results were reported at the 2016 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in Washington.

Read more about the findings here.



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