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U.S. approves Roche’s Actemra arthritis drug

WASHINGTON, Jan 08 (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Roche Holding AG’s (ROG.VX) Actemra to treat rheumatoid arthritis, the company said on Friday.

The drug, made by Roche’s Genentech unit, is already approved for use in Europe and Japan and is expected by the company to become a blockbuster product.

The FDA approved the drug for treatment of adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis who do not respond well enough to another class of biotech drugs designed to block an inflammatory protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).

Actemra is an anti-interleukin-6 receptor antibody and works differently from TNF blockers such as Humira, sold by Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N), and Remicade, sold by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N).

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