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Volume 52, Number 1, February 2019

Safety and effectiveness of tocilizumab in treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis – A three-year study in Taiwan 

Ching-Tsai Lin, Wen-Nan Huang, Chia-Wei Hsieh, Yi-Ming Chen, Der-Yuan Chen, Tsu-Yi Hsieh, Yi-Hsing Chen


Background and purpose: 

To evaluate the long-term safety and effectiveness of tocilizumab (TCZ) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a real-world clinical setting in Taiwan.




All refractory RA patients who initiated intravenous TCZ between August 2012 and March 2015 were enrolled. Data on patient characteristics, drug safety and effectiveness were collected.




A total of 114 RA patients were recruited. Despite the majority of them (93%) had previous biologic failure, 43.75% of the patients were able to reach ACR50 after one year. Serious adverse events commonly found were bacterial pneumonia (4.24/100 patient-years) followed by cellulitis (2.12/100 patient-years). Twenty-three patients had old or latent TB infections, 11 patients had chronic hepatitis B. During the 3 years follow-up, none of them had reactivation of TB, or hepatitis B with concomitant use of isoniazid prophylaxis or pre-emptive antiviral treatment. 



In this 3-year real-world study on RA patients of Taiwan, we found a good long-term effectiveness and similar safety profiles for the TCZ treatment. With prophylactic strategy for latent TB and pre-emptive antiviral treatment for HBV carriers, the risk of reactivation of latent TB and HBV may be reassured. 


Key words:

Hepatitis BRheumatoid arthritisSafety and effectivenessTocilizumabTuberculosis