Furthermore, one-third of people with RA surveyed believe nothing can be done to stop the progression of the disease. The survey results were accepted for poster presentation at the 2009 European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Annual Congress of Rheumatology in Copenhagen.
The RAISE survey sheds light on the unmet needs of RA patients regarding physician/patient consultation and support, treatment preferences and quality of life issues. Findings from the survey were also premiered at a special roundtable discussion between several of Europe's leading rheumatologists and RA patients representing key advocacy organizations from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Italy and Germany. The survey was commissioned by Schering-Plough Corporation and conducted by an independent public polling organization.
"Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating disease that has a significant impact on a patient's quality of life," said Iain McInnes, MD, PhD, FRCP, Professor of Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology, University of Glasgow, UK and RAISE Patient Needs Panel Steering Group member. "More than half of the surveyed patients feel that their lives are controlled by their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, demonstrating a clear need for more effective treatment options for these sufferers."
About 25 percent of people with RA who are currently on a subcutaneous injectable medication rely on caregivers or healthcare providers to administer the medication while 24 percent of patients who self-inject experience pain upon injection and 20 percent experience irritation at the injection site. Of those people who self-inject, approximately 12 percent described the process as somewhat difficult demonstrating the unmet need for patient-friendly, self-injectable devices and formulations that are less painful.
Furthermore, people with RA would be willing to try a new biologic if the product was developed with patient-friendly features, including: working consistently (76 percent); offering once-monthly administration (75 percent); simple instructions (69 percent); easier auto-injector (66 percent) and producing less injection site reactions (56 percent).
"When we examine the survey findings, we are reminded of the importance of communication between physicians and patients and the need to increase discussion to include a range of issues related to rheumatoid arthritis, including the impact the disease has on quality of life," said Gerd Burmester, MD, Professor of Medicine, Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Charite University Hospital, Berlin, Germany and RAISE Patient Needs Panel Steering Group member. "Understanding the patients' viewpoints and expectations can provide a valuable perspective to rheumatologists and help shape our management and treatment strategies."
In addition to assessing the impact of living with RA and identifying the opportunities for improvement in patient/physician consultation and support, the survey sought to determine how biologic therapies may help meet an unmet need and understand patient attitudes about currently available treatments.
Additional Key Findings
Biologic Treatments - The surveyed patients were either on biologic therapy or were biologic naive but eligible for biologic treatment based on a broad set of criteria. Of those patients currently taking an anti-TNF therapy, over three-quarters said that their treatment reduces the amount of joint pain and swelling and 71 percent feel that their medication is well tolerated. Only 11 percent of biologic eligible patients had ever been recommended a biologic treatment by a physician. Additionally, a majority of the biologic-eligible patients would be willing to try a medication requiring an injection if the product: stopped disease progression (89 percent); relieved more symptoms for a greater period of time (86 percent); didn't hurt at the time of injection (75 percent) and was easy to use (73 percent).
Current Treatments - A total of 66 percent of people with RA surveyed feel their current treatment provides only short-term relief, while almost 20 percent of people with RA believe their current medication produces inconsistent results. Furthermore, patients cite the pain and discomfort they receive at the injection site as well as tolerance issues as drawbacks from their current medication.
"This large patient survey provides key insights into how patients with rheumatoid arthritis live with their disease and how therapy may impact their ability to manage their RA," said Bernard Combe, MD, PhD, Professor of Rheumatology, Immuno-Rhumatologie, Hospital Lapeyronie, Montpellier, France and RAISE Patient Needs Panel Steering Group member. "Almost 20 percent of the surveyed patients said their current treatment produces inconsistent results, which confirms there is a significant need for newer treatment options for this patient population."
About the RAISE Patient Needs Survey
The RAISE survey is part of an educational initiative designed to gain insight into the management and treatment of RA from both health care provider and patient points-of-view. The first program executed under RAISE was a large-scale survey of RA patients designed to: better understand the perceptions of RA patients and their therapy; characterize the patients view on unmet needs and increase physician awareness of the perceptions of their patients and their unmet therapy needs. The survey was conducted October through December 2008.
A total of 586 patients, approximately 30 biologic naive and 35 currently using anti-TNF alpha agents from nine countries (Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), were interviewed.
Development of the survey was guided by the RAISE Patient Needs Panel Steering Group, comprised of Drs. Gerd Burmester, Bernard Combe, and Iain McInnes. Additionally a Country Panel of 53 rheumatology experts from the nine countries contributed to the survey on a local country-specific level. Two patient organizations also had the opportunity to review the survey and provide questions they believed important to include in this initiative.
The final survey included, but was not limited to, questions covering RA diagnosis and physician visits, methods for obtaining information and support for the management of RA, daily living with RA, and patients' beliefs around their current treatment.
About Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic and debilitating disease that affects approximately one percent of Canadian adults and more than three million people in Europe. Signs and symptoms of RA include pain, stiffness and motion restriction in multiple joints. Because RA is a progressive disease, it can cause permanent joint deformity and severe disability if not diagnosed early or if initial treatment is delayed. RA can occur at any age, but is most common in adults 30-50 years old and is two-to-three times more prevalent in women than in men. The cause of RA is unknown, although genetic factors may contribute to the disease.
Schering-Plough is an innovation-driven, science-centered global health care company. Through its own biopharmaceutical research and collaborations with partners, Schering-Plough creates therapies that help save and improve lives around the world. The company applies its research-and-development platform to human prescription and consumer products as well as to animal health products. Schering-Plough's vision is to "Earn Trust, Every Day" with the doctors, patients, customers and other stakeholders served by its colleagues around the world. The company is based in Kenilworth, N.J., and its Web site is www.schering-plough.com.