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International Medical Convention Addresses RA Treatment

International and regional medical experts meeting in Dubai this week addressed the importance of early detection and adequate treatment for patients afflicted by arthritis (RA), an auto-immune disease resulting in the loss of joint function which often leads to disability and other systemic complications.

The event was organized by Roche, the world’s largest biotech company, where it announced the launch of its innovative drug, Actemra (tocilizumab), the only product to show superiority over methotrexate (MTX), the most widely used treatment against rheumatoid arthritis.

Research has shown that rheumatoid arthritis patients have high levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), the key cytokine or protein involved in the inflammatory process. The overproduction of IL-6 leads to inflammation, swelling, joint damage and destruction, as well as other symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis is generally diagnosed through several symptoms and signs such as morning stiffness for an hour, pain and swelling of joints, and general weakness. The experts called on patients who notice these and other signs and symptoms to seek a rheumatologist’s opinion.

“The key thing here is early detection in order to determine the best course for treatment which ideally should help doctors treat the symptoms and stop progression of the disease. We look forward to using this new treatment option which will help our patients better manage RA signs and symptoms and hopefully substantially modify the course of the disease,” said Dr. Waleed Al Shehhi, consultant rheumatologist and president of the Emirates Society Rheumatology (ESR) in the UAE.

Dr. Mohamad Al Marzouqi, consultant rheumatologist at Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre (SKMC), who participated in the convention said, “The latest clinical trials and case studies that were presented by colleagues from all over the world, showed that Actemra delivers a unique combination of a rapid onset of action and an efficacy that keeps improving over time. This means that many of my patients have now a new hope that will help them deal with this life-changing disease that affects them both physically and emotionally.”

According to the World Health Organisation’s latest statistics about 1% of the world’s population suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Twice as many women are generally affected by RA than men. The earlier the disease starts, the more likely it is that patients will become severely disabled. The disease also impacts the average life expectancy, shortening it by three to 7 years.

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