Swiss firm Roche and US firm Biogen Idec have suspended the ongoing clinical trials of a new rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug ocrelizumab, following deaths caused by infection.

The decision comes after a review by the independent Ocrelizumab RA & Lupus Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) detected serious, opportunistic and fatal infections caused by the drug.

Based on the assessment of the drug’s studies in RA and lupus, the DSMB concluded that the drug’s safety risk outweighs the benefits observed.

The drug, being tested on nearly 2,400 patients in more than 30 countries, resulted in an unspecified number of deaths.

The company has said that a detailed analysis of all of the data will be conducted to help further inform the future of the ocrelizumab RA clinical programme.