Etanercept Improves Growth in Children With JIA

Effective when used with or without methotrexate for juvenile idiopathic arthritis

THURSDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Etanercept alone or in combination with methotrexate (MTX) may mitigate the potentially permanent growth retardation associated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), according to research published in the November issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Edward H. Giannini, of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues conducted an open-label, nonrandomized study of 594 patients with polyarticular or systemic JIA being treated with etanercept only, etanercept plus MTX, or MTX only. The objective of the study was to assess the long-term effects of etanercept on children's growth over a three-year period.

At the end of the study period, the researchers found that the children treated with etanercept or etanercept plus MTX had statistically significant mean height, weight, and body mass index percentile increases. There were no significant changes in these measurement percentiles in the MTX-only treatment group.

"According to the results of the present study, etanercept treatment (with or without MTX) did not adversely affect growth rates and may contribute to the restoration of normal growth in children with JIA," the authors write.

The study was supported by Immunex Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amgen Inc., and by Wyeth, which was acquired by Pfizer Inc. in October 2009. Several of the authors disclosed financial ties to these and other pharmaceutical and/or medical device companies.

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