Public Release:  Hepatitis B vaccine less effective in rheumatoid arthritis patients

Only 11 percent of study participants respond to immunization

European League Against Rheumatism

Rome, Italy, 12 June 2015: The results of a study presented today at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2015) Press Conference showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are less likely to be protected by hepatitis B vaccination than the general population. Within the trial only 11% of those with the condition responded to the vaccine, compared with 83% of those without RA, suggesting that people with RA may still be at risk of infection in spite of vaccination.

"The majority of RA patients tested as part of our study were not protected by hepatitis B vaccination," said study investigator MishaTilanus, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, Netherlands. "People with RA have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality from infections, and to discover that immunisation might not confer protection is a real concern. It's crucial that patients and healthcare practitioners are aware of this lack of efficacy and do all they can to minimise risk."

RA is a chronic systemic disease that affects the joints, connective tissues, muscle, tendons, and fibrous tissue. The prevalence of RA globally varies between 0.3% and 1% and is more common in women and in developed countries. RA - and many of its treatments - can suppress the immune system, leaving patients at risk of a potentially fatal infection.

Hepatitis B is a life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. An estimated 240 million people worldwide are chronically infected with hepatitis B, which kills 780,000 people every year.

Vaccination with HBVAXPRO-10 was performed according to the standard regimen (0, 1 and 6 months), with markers of response to the vaccine (hepatitis B antigens, anti-HBsAG) determined after 28 weeks. RA patients had a higher risk for non-response than controls, with an odds ratio of 44 (corrected for age and gender). There was no difference in response between patients using anti-TNF, DMARBs or rituximab.

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Abstract Number: OP0167

NOTES TO EDITORS:

For further information on this study, or to request an interview with the study lead, please do not hesitate to contact the EULAR congress Press Office in Room 5B of Fiera Roma during EULAR 2015 or on:
Email: eularpressoffice@cohnwolfe.com
Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7738 890 799
Twitter: @EULAR_Press
Youtube: Eular Pressoffice

About EULAR

The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is an umbrella organisation which represents scientific societies, health professional associations and organisations for people with rheumatic diseases throughout Europe.

EULAR aims to promote, stimulate and support the research, prevention, and treatment of rheumatic diseases and the rehabilitation of those it affects.

With 45 scientific member societies, 35 People with Arthritis and Rheumatism in Europe (PARE) organisations, 19 health professionals associations and 21 corporate members, EULAR highlights the importance of combating rheumatic diseases through both medical means and patient care.

EULAR 2015 is set to be the biggest rheumatology event in Europe with around 14,000 scientists, physicians, allied health professionals and related audiences in attendance from more than 120 countries. Over the course of the congress there will be some 300 oral and just under 2,000 poster abstract presentations, more than 150 sessions, 400 lectures, 40 poster tours and 350 invited speakers

To find out more about the activities of EULAR, visit: http://www.eular.org

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