New therapy treats Still's disease in children

May 1, 2011

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of Actemra, a drug that treats juvenile idiopathic arthritis in adults, as treatment for children with active systemic JIA.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Actemra (tocilizumab), a drug that treats juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in adults, as therapy for children with active systemic JIA (SJIA), or Still's disease, a debilitating and potentially life-threatening disorder that causes severe inflammation throughout the body.

Actemra (Genentech; South San Francisco, California) is an interleukin-6 receptor blocker used to treat adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis who have not responded to other approved therapies. The new indication for Actemra offers the first approved drug therapy for SJIA in children aged 2 years and older.

An international, multicenter controlled trial of 112 patients with SJIA aged 2 to 17 years who had inadequate response to or who were unable to tolerate NSAIDs or corticosteroids showed that Actemra i nfusions every 2 weeks for 12 weeks produced an 85% response to treatment compared with 24% percent of participants who received placebo infusions.