Mediterr J Rheumatol 2020;31(4):400-5
The Use of Infliximab (Remicade®) for the Treatment of Rheumatic Diseases at a Tertiary Center in Lebanon: A 17-Year Retrospective Chart Review
Authors Information

1. Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, 2. Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon


Objectives: Infliximab (Remicade®) was the first tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF) inhibitor to receive its initial marketing approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Crohn’s disease. Following that, infliximab became approved for several immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. No evidence exists in the Middle East and North Africa region on the experience with infliximab use over an extended period in terms of efficacy and safety. Methods: The Rheumatology division at the American University of Beirut Medical Centre (AUBMC), one of the largest tertiary centres in the Middle East and North Africa region, has been using infliximab infusions for the treatment of certain rheumatic diseases for around two decades. By reviewing retrospectively medical charts at AUBMC, we investigate indications, safety and efficacy, rate of withdrawals, rate of switching to another biologic, and financial coverage of the drug to present data for practitioners and patients in the region considering infliximab for treatment of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. Results: A total of 198 patients were identified in the past 17 years to have taken infliximab. The largest proportion of treated patients had RA. Fourteen percent of the total cohort experienced serious adverse events, with 96.4% of those events being mild hypersensitivity reactions. Five patients withdrew the medication because of infectious complications, 4 of which were cases of tuberculosis reactivation. Despite that, around half of the patients were switched to another biologic agent such anti-TNF-α, anti-CD20, and anti-IL-6 due to partial response, and less than half were receiving add-on disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as methotrexate, 70% of patients who used infliximab only or were switched achieved complete remission at their last hospital information. Around 98% of infliximab users were financially covered. Conclusion: According to our experience, infliximab has made remission and prevention of long-term disability realistic goals of therapy in the Middle East region.

Article Submitted: 4 Apr 2020; Revised Form: 6 Aug 2020; Article Accepted: 1 Sep 2020; Available Online: 22 Dec 2020


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY). 

©Nahra V, El Hasbani G, Chaaya M, Uthman I.