There have been substantial advances in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in recent years. Traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) have been shown to have small effects on the progression of radiographic damage. This quantitative overview summarizes the evidence for biologic DMARDs and radiographic damage either alone or in combination with methotrexate. Two outcomes were used (standardized mean difference and odds of progression). A total of 21 trials were identified of which 18 had useable data. For biologic monotherapy, tocilizumab, adalimumab, and etanercept were significantly better than methotrexate, with tocilizumab ranking first in both outcomes while golimumab was ineffective in both outcomes. For a biologic in combination with methotrexate compared with methotrexate alone, most therapies studied (etanercept, adalimumab, infliximab, certolizumab, tocilizumab, and rituximab) were effective at slowing X-ray progression using either outcome, with infliximab ranking first in both outcomes. The exceptions to this were golimumab (no effect on standardized mean difference) and abatacept (no effect on odds of progression). This effect was additional to methotrexate; thus, the overall benefit is moderate to large in magnitude, which is clearly of major clinical significance for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis and supports the use of biologic DMARDs in those with a poor disease prognosis.
Keywords: rheumatoid, trials, meta-analysis, radiographs, biologic, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, DMARDs