A potential rheumatoid arthritis treatment from French drugmaker Sanofi and its U.S. development partner Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. fared better than a fake drug at improving disease signs and symptoms in a late-stage study.
The companies said Friday they saw a statistically significant improvement in patient groups that received their drug, sarilumab, combined with methotrexate compared to those who just received methotrexate and a placebo.
About 1,200 patients enrolled in the study. Researchers tested two doses of the drug in adults with active rheumatoid arthritis who were not helped by methotrexate.
Aside from improving signs and symptoms, the treatment also helped physical function and inhibited joint damage progression, the companies said.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints and destroys soft tissue, cartilage and bone. It represents a major area of research for drug companies because it is chronic, meaning patients will likely take the drugs regularly for a long time.
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment for the disease, Pfizer Inc.'s twice-a-day pill Xeljanz.
Shares of Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Regeneron closed at $276.41 on Thursday and have climbed more than 62 percent this year. U.S.-traded shares of Sanofi closed at $52.59 Thursday and have risen 11 percent in 2013.