Roche seeks US OK to market Actemra for prevention

NEW YORK, March 16 (Reuters) - Roche Holding AG ROG.VX said on Tuesday it asked U.S. regulators for permission to market its Actemra rheumatoid arthritis treatment as a means of preventing structural damage in patients with the potentially crippling disease.

The drug, whose chemical name is tocilizumab, was approved in January by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat the inherited form of arthritis among patients who have not had adequate relief from standard treatments that block an inflammation-causing protein called tumor necrosis factor.

Actemra is the first approved treatment for rheumatoid arthritis that works by blocking receptors to another protein called interleukin-6. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)