Risk of exacerbation of pulmonary comorbidities in patients with rheumatoid arthritis after initiation of abatacept versus TNF inhibitors: A cohort study

Date Published:

2020 06


BACKGROUND: Biologic agents may pose a potential risk for exacerbations of pulmonary comorbidities in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. METHODS: Using U.S. Medicare and Truven MarketScan databases, we identified three cohorts of RA patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asthma who initiated abatacept or a TNF inhibitor (TNFi). The primary outcome was a composite exacerbation of individual pulmonary comorbidities based on inpatient or emergency department (ED) visits due to exacerbation of the given pulmonary comorbidity. To adjust for >60 baseline confounders, we used propensity-score fine stratification (PSS) and weighting. Negative binomial regression model estimated a cohort-specific incidence rate ratio (IRR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of the primary outcome per database, comparing abatacept versus TNFi. Database-specific IRRs were combined using a random-effects meta-analysis. RESULTS: We identified 3,295 ILD, 7,161 COPD, and 5,613 asthma patients with RA who initiated either abatacept or a TNFi. IR of composite exacerbation was high in all three pulmonary cohorts but highest in COPD cohort (3.59-11.80 per 100 person-years in ILD, 20.68-34.97 in COPD, and 4.66-13.78 in asthma). After PSS weighting, the combined IRR (95%CI) in abatacept initiators versus TNFi initiators was 0.44 (0.18-1.09) for ILD exacerbation, 0.91 (0.80-1.03) for COPD exacerbation, and 0.81 (0.54-1.22) for asthma exacerbation. CONCLUSION: Among patients with RA and pulmonary comorbidities, exacerbations requiring inpatient or ED visits occurred frequently after initiating abatacept or TNFi. Overall, we found no significant difference in the risk of ILD, COPD or asthma exacerbation between abatacept and TNFi initiators, but precision of our estimates is limited.
Last updated on 07/09/2021