Anifrolumab reduces flare rates in patients with moderate to severe systemic lupus erythematosus

Richard Furie, Eric F. Morand, Anca D. Askanase, Edward M. Vital, Joan T. Merrill, Rubana N. Kalyani, Gabriel Abreu, Lilia Pineda, Raj Tummala

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) management objectives include preventing disease flares while minimizing glucocorticoid exposure. Pooled data from the phase 3 TULIP-1 and TULIP-2 trials in patients with moderate to severe SLE were analyzed to determine anifrolumab’s effect on flares, including those arising with glucocorticoid taper. Methods: TULIP-1 and TULIP-2 were randomized, placebo-controlled, 52-week trials of intravenous anifrolumab (300 mg every 4 weeks for 48 weeks). For patients receiving baseline glucocorticoid ≥10 mg/day, attempted taper to ≤7.5 mg/day prednisone or equivalent from Weeks 8–40 was required and defined as sustained reduction when maintained through Week 52. Flares were defined as ≥1 new BILAG-2004 A or ≥2 new BILAG-2004 B scores versus the previous visit. Flare assessments were compared for patients receiving anifrolumab versus placebo. Results: Compared with placebo (n = 366), anifrolumab (n = 360) was associated with lower annualized flare rates (rate ratio 0.75, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.60–0.95), prolonged time to first flare (hazard ratio 0.70, 95% CI 0.55–0.89), and fewer patients with ≥1 flare (difference −9.3%, 95% CI −16.3 to −2.3), as well as flares in organ domains commonly active at baseline (musculoskeletal, mucocutaneous). Fewer BILAG-based Composite Lupus Assessment responders had ≥1 flare with anifrolumab (21.1%, 36/171) versus placebo (30.4%, 34/112). Of patients who achieved sustained glucocorticoid reductions from ≥10 mg/day at baseline, more remained flare free with anifrolumab (40.0%, 76/190) versus placebo (17.3%, 32/185). Conclusions: Analyses of pooled TULIP-1 and TULIP-2 data support that anifrolumab reduces flares while permitting glucocorticoid taper in patients with SLE. identifiers TULIP-1 NCT02446912 (; TULIP-2 NCT02446899 (

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1254–1263
Number of pages10
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • flare
  • glucocorticoid
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • treatment

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