With the introduction of new disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and other therapeutic agents, the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has shifted toward earlier, more aggressive therapy. The ultimate goal is to prevent structural joint damage that leads to pain and functional disability. Early diagnosis of RA is therefore essential, and early DMARD treatment combined with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is recommended. Combination DMARD regimens and new biologic agents (anti-tumor necrosis factor [TNF] therapies [infliximab, etanercept] and the interleukin [IL]-1 antagonist [anakinra]) have emerged as viable options for early treatment of RA patients. These new biologic agents and future nonbiologic agents that target proteins in signaling cascades are likely to change the landscape of RA treatments.
Keywords: rheumatoid arthritis, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, emerging therapies, infliximab