The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved a subcutaneous version of a drug called Actemra (tocilizumab) for treating patients with active polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA) who are over two years old, according to Biospace.
PJIA is a subtype of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). JIA is the most common cause of arthritis in children, affecting approximately one in every 1,000 children, but its cause remains unknown. 25-30% of JIA patients have the form PJIA. PJIA is an autoimmune disease thought to be caused by the body’s immune system becoming overactive and attacking healthy body cells causing damage and inflammation, and producing the symptoms associated with the condition. These symptoms differ between individuals, and over time. They include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling (usually of smaller joints), a loss of appetite, and tiredness. Periods of particularly intense symptoms known as ‘flare-ups’ can be brought on by various environmental, biological, and psychological factors such as stress, infection, and medication changes. The condition is often treated using painkillers such as paracetamol and codeine for pain, and a range of steroidal and non-steroidal drugs to reduce the underlying inflammation and stiffness that causes the pain.