FDA Panel Gives Nod to New Arthritis Drug

September 8, 2005-- Posted at 2:40 PM CDT

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee on Tuesday recommended approval for a new drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

The drug, abatacept, is designed to be given intravenously and suppresses part of the immune system. Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb is recommending it as an alternative for those who don't respond to existing treatments.

The FDA's Arthritis Advisory Committee voted 7-0 that the benefits of the drug outweigh any risks, the Associated Press reported.

Abatacept will sell under the trade name Orencia if it wins approval. Rheumatoid arthritis is a sometimes disabling condition that affects an estimated 2.1 million Americans, most of them women.

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