Current Weather
The Spy FM

New Pill For Rheumatoid Arthritis Gets FDA Nod

Filed by KOSU News in Business.
November 7, 2012

In the Election Day scramble you might have missed that Pfizer got a new drug approved for rheumatoid arthritis.

Pfizer expects the twice-a-day pill called Xeljanz will be available in pharmacies later this month.

The drug won’t come cheap. The wholesale price will run about $2,000 for a month’s supply, the company says.

There are lots of other treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. There’s an inexpensive generic pill called methotrexate. And there are some pricier options — Remicade, Enbrel and Humira, to name three — that require a needle.

But this rheumatoid arthritis drug is the first one that works by blocking enzymes called janus kinases. They play a communication role inside the body and are involved in inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Pfizer says Xeljanz (say zel-jans) costs less than the two leading brand-name rheumatoid arthritis treatments.

But not a lot less, according to data from health industry analyst Mark Schoenebaum at ISI Group. He figures a year of treatment with Xeljanz would run only $2,000 or so less than treatment with Enbrel or Humira.

Xeljanz is for patients with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis who either can’t tolerate or don’t respond to methotrexate, the Food and Drug Administration said.

In a presentation to investors, Schoenbaum wrote that he expected doctors to use the drug “cautiously” and mainly in patients who had failed Enbrel and Humira.

The new drug’s instructions come with a boxed warning, the most serious type of safety information required by FDA. Xeljanz carries a risk of serious infections, including tuberculosis and some illnesses that required hospitalization in clinical tests. The drug also raises cholesterol. It was also associated with an increased risk for some cancers.

Pfizer agreed to study those side effects in a long-term study. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

11PM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 6AM The Splendid Table

The Splendid Table

Hosted by award-winning Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table is a culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrates food and its ability to touch the lives and feed the souls of everyone.

View the program guide!

6AM to 7AM Travel with Rick Steves

Travel with Rick Steves

"Travel with Rick Steves" is a fun, hour-long, and practical talk show with guest experts and calls and questions from travelers. This weekly program is a lively conversation between travelers and the experts as we learn to explore our world smartly, smoothly, and thoughtfully.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center