The National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) approved the drug Actemra (tocilizumab), used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that affects 1% of the world, representing 21 million people. Brazil has about 1.5 million patients.
The approval was based on data from clinical studies in patients from several countries, including Brazil, which had 200 participants. According to the rheumatologist Morton Scheinberg, who conducted research with the drug, tocilizumab inhibits the action of interleukin 6 (IL-6), a substance produced in excess by patients with arthritis. The abnormal production of IL-6 is one of those responsible for chronic inflammation and progressive destruction of joints. "Blocking the action of IL-6 for the drug was effective in reducing inflammation of the joints, reducing pain, joint swelling, anemia and fatigue that often accompany the disease," he says.
Arthritis is a chronic disease that affects the joints, but is also systemic and can affect other organs.