Acquired drug resistance or gradual drug failure has been described with most disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and is also starting to be recognised with anti‐tumour necrosis factor (anti‐TNF) agents.
To study acquired drug resistance to anti‐TNF agents in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Swiss health authorities requested continuous monitoring of patients receiving biological agents. Intensification of co‐therapy with traditional DMARDs, gradual dose escalation, and drug discontinuation rates in all patients receiving infliximab, etanercept, or adalimumab, adjusting for potential confounders, were analysed. Intensification of DMARD co‐therapy and time to discontinuation of the three anti‐TNF agents were analysed using a proportional hazards models. Dose escalation and evolution of RA disease activity (DAS28) were analysed using a longitudinal regression model.
1198 patients contributing 1450 patient‐years of anti‐TNF treatment met the inclusion criteria. The rate of intensification of traditional DMARD co‐therapy over time was significantly higher with infliximab (hazards ratio = 1.73 (99% confidence interval (CI) 1.19 to 2.51)) than with the two other agents. Infliximab also showed significant dose escalation over time, with an average dose increase of +12% (99% CI 8% to 16%) after 1 year, and +18% (99% CI 11% to 25%) after 2 years. No significant differences in discontinuation rates were seen between the three anti‐TNF agents (ANOVA, p = 0.67). Evolution of disease activity over time indicated a lower therapeutic response to infliximab (DAS28, p<0.001) compared with etanercept, after 6 months' treatment.
In this population, infliximab was associated with a higher risk of requiring intensification of DMARD co‐therapy than the other anti‐TNF agents and a significant dose escalation over time. Analysis of RA disease activity indicated a reduced therapeutic response to infliximab after the first 6 months of treatment, suggestive of acquired drug resistance.
rheumatoid arthritis; antirheumatic therapy; anti‐tumour necrosis factor agents; drug resistance
Objective: To compare drug continuation rates in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who start on a biological agent and in a control group of patients with a change in disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) treatment after previous DMARD failure.
Methods: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis enrolled in the German biologics register between May 2001 and September 2003 were included in the study. Data were available for 511 patients treated with etanercept, 343 with infliximab, 70 with anakinra, and 599 controls. Propensity scores were used to select a subsample of patients from the control group who were likely to be treated with biological agents because of their disease severity, as well as comparable infliximab and etanercept cases.
Results: Treatment continuation after 12 months was similar for etanercept (68.6% (95% confidence interval, 62% to 75%)) and infliximab (65.4% (58% to 73%)) but lower for anakinra (59% (41% to 77%)). Treatment continuation was more likely for patients on combinations of biological agents and DMARDs than for those on infliximab or etanercept alone. Patients treated with biological agents were more severely ill than those in the control group and had more previous DMARD failures. After adjustment for baseline differences, the continuation rates were higher in patients treated with biological agents than in comparable control patients treated with leflunomide or leflunomide/methotrexate.
Conclusions: Treatment continuation of biological agents in clinical practice is less likely than in randomised clinical trials but more likely than in comparable controls treated with conventional DMARDs.
Periodic assessment of gene expression for diagnosis and monitoring in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may provide a readily available and useful method to detect subclinical disease progression and follow responses to therapy with disease modifying anti-rheumatic agents (DMARDs) or anti-TNF-α therapy. We used quantitative real-time PCR to compare peripheral blood gene expression profiles in active (“unstable”) RA patients on DMARDs, stable RA patients on DMARDs, and stable RA patients treated with a combination of a disease-modifying anti-rheumatoid drug (DMARD) and an anti-TNF-α agent (infliximab or etanercept) to healthy human controls. The expression of 48 inflammatory genes were compared between healthy controls (N = 122), unstable DMARD patients (N = 18), stable DMARD patients (N = 26), and stable patients on combination therapy (N = 20). Expression of 13 genes was very low or undetectable in all study groups. Compared to healthy controls, patients with unstable RA on DMARDs exhibited increased expression of 25 genes, stable DMARD patients exhibited increased expression of 14 genes and decreased expression of five genes, and combined therapy patients exhibited increased expression of six genes and decreased expression of 10 genes. These findings demonstrate that active RA is associated with increased expression of circulating inflammatory markers whereas increases in inflammatory gene expression are diminished in patients with stable disease on either DMARD or anti-TNF-α therapy. Furthermore, combination DMARD and anti-TNF-α therapy is associated with greater reductions in circulating inflammatory gene expression compared to DMARD therapy alone. These results suggest that assessment of peripheral blood gene expression may prove useful to monitor disease progression and response to therapy.
gene expression; rheumatoid arthritis; anti-TNF-α; whole blood; biomarker
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists are biologic response modifiers that have significantly improved functional outcomes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is a progressive disease in which structural joint damage can continue to develop even in the face of symptomatic relief. Before the introduction of biologic agents, the management of RA involved the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) early in the course of disease. This focus on early treatment, combined with the availability of the anti-TNF agents, has contributed to a shift in treatment paradigms favoring the early and timely use of DMARDs with biologic therapies. Improvement in symptom control does not always equate to a reduction in disease progression or disability. With the emergence of structure-related outcome measures as the primary means for assessing the effectiveness of antirheumatic agents, the regular use of X-rays is recommended for the continued monitoring and evaluation of patients. In addition to the control of symptoms and improvement in physical function, a reduction in erosions and joint-space narrowing should be considered among the goals of therapy, leading to a better quality of life. Adherence to therapy is an important element in optimizing outcomes. Durability of therapy with anti-TNF agents as reported from clinical trials can also be achieved in the clinical setting. Concomitant methotrexate therapy might be important in maintaining TNF antagonist therapy in the long term. Overall, the TNF antagonists have led to improvements in clinical and radiographic outcomes in patients with RA, especially those who have failed to show a complete response to methotrexate.
etanercept; infliximab; rheumatoid arthritis
Drugs form the mainstay of therapy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Five main classes of drugs are currently used: analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), glucocorticoids, nonbiologic and biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Current clinical practice guidelines recommend that clinicians start biologic agents if patients have suboptimal response or intolerant to one or two traditional disease modifying agents (DMARDs). Methotrexate, sulfasalazine, leflunomide and hydroxychloroquine are the commonly used DMARDs. Currently, anti-TNF is the commonly used first line biologic worldwide followed by abatacept and it is usually combined with MTX. There is some evidence that tocilizumab is the most effective biologic as a monotherapy agent. Rituximab is generally not used as a first line biologic therapy due to safety issues but still as effective as anti-TNF. The long term data for the newer oral small molecule biologics such as tofacitinib is not available and hence used only as a last resort.
rheumatoid arthritis; pharmacotherapy and biologic drugs
The objective of this work is to compare the adherence to therapy of patients receiving etanercept and infliximab during first tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-blocking treatment course in rheumatoid arthritis. Special emphasis is placed on potential predictors for treatment termination and the impact of concomitant methotrexate (MTX) or other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Patients (n = 1,161) with active rheumatoid arthritis, not responding to at least two DMARDs including MTX starting etanercept or infliximab therapy for the first time, were included in a structured clinical follow-up protocol. Information on diagnosis, disease duration, previous and ongoing DMARDs, treatment start and termination, as well as cause of withdrawal was prospectively collected during the period of March 1999 through December 2004. Patients were divided into six groups according to TNF-blocking drugs and concomitant DMARDs. Five-year level (one-year) of adherence to therapy was 36% (69%) for patients receiving infliximab in combination with MTX compared with 65% (89%) for patients treated with etanercept and MTX (p < 0.001). Cox regression models showed that the risk for premature treatment termination of patients treated with infliximab was threefold higher than for etanercept (p < 0.001). Also, the regression analysis showed that patients receiving concomitant MTX had better treatment continuation than patients treated solely with TNF blockers (p < 0.001). Moreover, patients receiving concomitant MTX had superior drug survival than patients receiving other concomitant DMARDs (p < 0.010). The superior effect of MTX was associated primarily with fewer treatment terminations because of adverse events. In addition, the study identifies low C-reactive protein level, high age, elevated health assessment questionnaire score, and higher previous number of DMARDs as predictors of premature treatment termination. In summary, treatment with etanercept has higher adherence to therapy than treatment with infliximab. Concomitant MTX is associated with improved treatment continuation of biologics when compared with both TNF blockers as monotherapy and TNF blockers combined with other DMARDs.
Treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may improve outcomes compared to conventional therapy (e.g., non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, intra-articular corticosteroids). The purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate the comparative effectiveness and safety of DMARDs versus conventional therapy and versus other DMARDs.
A systematic evidence review of 156 reports identified in MEDLINE®, EMBASE®, and by hand searches. There is some evidence that methotrexate is superior to conventional therapy. Among children who have responded to a biologic DMARD, randomized discontinuation trials suggest that continued treatment decreases the risk of having a flare. However, these studies evaluated DMARDs with different mechanisms of action (abatacept, adalimumab, anakinra, etanercept, intravenous immunoglobulin, tocilizumab) and used varying comparators and follow-up periods. Rates of serious adverse events are similar between DMARDs and placebo in published trials. This review identified 11 incident cases of cancer among several thousand children treated with one or more DMARD.
Few data are available to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of either specific DMARDs or general classes of DMARDs. However, based on the overall number, quality, and consistency of studies, there is moderate strength of evidence to support that DMARDs improve JIA-associated symptoms. Limited data suggest that short-term risk of cancer is low.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs; Comparative effectiveness research; Systematic review
Some research evidence supports early aggressive treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) using combination therapy with two or more disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) plus steroids, or even DMARDs plus an anti-TNF. By contrast, conservatively delayed DMARD monotherapy, given after non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have failed, has been criticised. However, recent long-term studies highlight the complexities in evaluating whether to abandon pyramidal treatment in favour of early DMARDs. Although patients given early DMARD therapy show short-term benefits, longer-term results show no prolonged clinical advantages from early DMARDs. By 5 years patients receiving early DMARDs had similar disease activity and comparable health assessment questionnaire scores to patients who received DMARDs later in their disease course. X-ray progression was persistent and virtually identical in both groups. These negative findings do not invalidate the case for early DMARD therapy, as it is gives sustained reductions in disease activity in the early years of treatment without excessive risks from adverse effects. However, early DMARDs alone do not adequately control RA in the longer term. This may require starting with very aggressive therapy or treating patients more aggressively after early DMARD therapy has been initiated.
Treatment strategies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) will continue to evolve as new drugs are developed, as new data become available, and as our potential to achieve greater and more consistent outcomes becomes more routine. Many patients will find both symptom relief and modest control of their disease with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), yet this course of therapy is clearly not effective in all patients. In fact, despite strong evidence that intensive treatment in the early stages of RA can slow or stop disease progression and may prevent disability, many patients continue to be managed in a stepwise manner and are treated with an ongoing monotherapy regimen with DMARDs. There is now a large body of evidence demonstrating the success of treating RA patients with anti-TNF therapy, usually in combination with methotrexate. As a result of the increased use of anti-TNF therapy, treatment paradigms have changed – and our practice is beginning to reflect this change. In the present review, we summarize the salient points of several recently proposed and emerging treatment paradigms with an emphasis on how these strategies may impact future practice.
Therapeutic options for patients with more severe forms of spondyloarthritis (SpA) have been rather limited in recent decades. There is accumulating evidence that anti-tumor-necrosis-factor (anti-TNF) therapy is highly effective in SpA, especially in ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. The major anti-TNF-α agents currently available, infliximab (Remicade®) and etanercept (Enbrel®), are approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in many countries. In ankylosing spondylitis there is an unmet medical need, since there are almost no disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) available for severely affected patients, especially those with spinal manifestations. Judging from recent data from more than 300 patients with SpA, anti-TNF therapy seems to be even more effective in SpA than in rheumatoid arthritis. However, it remains to be shown whether patients benefit from long-term treatment, whether radiological progression and ankylosis can be stopped and whether long-term biologic therapy is safe.
ankylosing spondylitis; anti-TNF-α therapy; conventional and innovative treatment; psoriatic arthritis
We hypothesized that initiation of a new disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug DMARD) for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment would decrease use of corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and narcotics.
Using administrative databases we assembled 4 retrospective cohorts of RA patients (1998-2005), and identified 5 groups initiating DMARD regimens: methotrexate with (new MTX) or without (first MTX) use of other non-biologic DMARDs in the previous year; new hydroxychloroquine and/or sulfasalazine (new HCQ/SSZ) and new leflunomide (new LEF), both with previous use of MTX; and new TNF-α antagonists (new anti-TNF). We compared within-person differences in any use of co-therapies (≥1 prescription) between the 6 months before and the 6-12 months after DMARD initiation.
Among 32476 DMARD initiators, the prevalence of corticosteroids, NSAIDs and narcotics use increased by 15%, 5% and 6% respectively in the 6 months before initiation compared to the previous 6 months suggesting worsening of the disease. In the 6 to 12 months after initiation for most initiator groups, more patients stopped using corticosteroids and NSAIDs than started, with overall decreases of 8.9% [95%CI 8.4-9.4%] for corticosteroids and 12.9% [95%CI 12.3-13.4%] for NSAIDs. The proportion of narcotic users changed little (overall decrease of 2.5% [95%CI 1.9-3.0%]).
Use of all three co-therapies increased in the 6 months before initiation of new DMARD regimens for RA. Use of corticosteroids and NSAIDs decreased modestly 6-12 months fter initiation, but there was only a very small decrease in narcotic use. These differential changes require further study.
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.
rheumatoid; trials; meta-analysis; radiographs; biologic; disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs; DMARDs
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis may be resistant to conventional treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). On the other hand, biologic therapy is costly and may be inconvenient for many patients. Pamidronate is a potent bisphosphonate with the capacity of modifying the biological activity of the immune system cells. It may thus be used as an anti-inflammatory agent in patients with inflammatory joint diseases.
Materials and Methods:
To assess the effectiveness of pamidronate in the management of rheumatoid arthritis, we selected 38 patients with rheumatoid arthritis to enroll in a pilot study to receive pamidronate and conventional treatment with prednisolone and DMARDs in combination. These patients received 60 mg of pamidronate for 3 consecutive months and were followed for 6 months since the first infusion.
The mean visual analogue score (VAS) and disease activity score (DAS28) fell steadily until one month after the third infusion. However, no improvements were observed during the 3 months after the last infusion of the drug. All patients, except one, reported decreased pain in response to 3 consecutive pulses of pamidronate and most had improvements in the assessed laboratory and clinical indices. The drug was tolerated well in our patients.
Pamidronate infusions had beneficial effects on various clinical and laboratory parameters of patients, but alleviation of symptoms were temporary and did not last for more than 6 months. This treatment option can be a choice for difficult cases of rheumatoid arthritis with severe pain and osteoporosis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Refractory; Pamidronate
In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), treatment with disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) frequently needs to be changed because of insufficient effectiveness.
To compare the clinical outcomes of two potential strategies for patients experiencing DMARD discontinuations related to ineffectiveness: switching to another DMARD or step‐up combination therapy of the present DMARD with a new one.
In a large observational database of 4585 DMARD courses in 1214 patients with RA, all patients who had experienced a change in treatment regimen were identified, and retention, effectiveness and safety of these subsequent treatment courses between the two strategies (switching vs step‐up combination). All analyses were stratified according to the type of the new DMARD into methotrexate (MTX), sulphasalazine (SSZ) or leflunomide (LEF); all other DMARDs were excluded.
Kaplan–Meier analysis for MTX courses showed no significant difference in overall retention rates between the strategies of adding MTX and switching to MTX (p = 0.49 by log rank test). Likewise, switching or adding did not result in significantly different retention rates for SSZ and LEF (p = 0.61 and 0.74, respectively). This similarity between strategies remained after adjusting for several confounding variables. The frequencies of treatment terminations related to ineffectiveness or toxicity were likewise similar between the two strategies for the MTX, SSZ and LEF groups. This was also confirmed by the similarity of erythrocyte sedimentation rates that were reached at the end of the two therapeutic strategies for all three drugs, in adjusted analysis.
Given all limitations of observational studies, the present data indicate that in situations of ineffective DMARD treatments, step‐up combination therapy using traditional DMARDs, such as MTX, SSZ or LEF, bears no clear clinical advantage over switching to the new DMARD. Our results do not implicate any predication about step‐up design including biologicals, where the benefit of combination therapy has been suggested convincingly.
To evaluate the prevalence of past infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and the incidence of its reactivation under treatment with biological and/or nonbiological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), 239 patients receiving DMARD therapy were consecutively enrolled and tested for HBV-DNA, using a real-time polymerase chain reaction assay, HBV serology including hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc), and serum levels of aminotransferase. Data prior to DMARD therapy and during follow-up were examined by reviewing medical records. Two patients (0.8%) were positive for HBsAg at the start of therapy. Sixty patients (25.1%) showed HBsAg-negative and anti-HBc-positive serology indicative of past HBV infection. Among these 60 patients, 2 patients (3.3%) experienced reactivation of viral replication (<2.1 log copies/ml) during DMARD therapy. One had been receiving tacrolimus, prednisolone, and methotrexate (MTX); the other had been treated with adalimumab, prednisolone, and MTX. Their serum aminotransferase levels remained normal, and HBsAg was negative. Ten weeks after reactivation of viral replication had been noted, the HBV-DNA titer in the former patient had increased to 2.9 log copies/ml, and HBsAg and hepatitis B e antigen had become weakly positive. In contrast, the latter patient had become negative for viral DNA without any antiviral prophylaxis. In conclusion, the use of biological and nonbiological DMARDs is relatively safe in most RA patients with past HBV infection, even when no anti-HBV prophylaxis is administered. Considering the high prevalence of past infection in RA patients and the high cost of prophylaxis against HBV reactivation, universal prophylaxis is impractical. Regular monitoring of serum viral DNA seems to be the most rational approach to preventing the development of clinically apparent hepatitis.
Hepatitis B virus; Rheumatoid arthritis; Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs; Occult infection; Reactivation
To evaluate the effect of different concomitant disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) on the persistence with antitumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
This analysis included 10 396 patients with RA registered with the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register, a prospective observational cohort study, who were starting their first anti-TNF therapy and were receiving one of the following DMARD treatments at baseline: no DMARD (n=3339), methotrexate (MTX) (n=4418), leflunomide (LEF) (n=610), sulfasalazine (SSZ) (n=308), MTX+SSZ (n=902), MTX+ hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) (n=401) or MTX+SSZ+HCQ (n=418). Kaplan–Meier survival analysis was used to study the persistence with anti-TNF therapy in each DMARD subgroup up to 5 years. Multivariate Cox proportional hazard models, stratified by anti-TNF used and start year and adjusted for a number of potential confounders, were used to compare treatment persistence overall and according to the reason for discontinuation between each of the DMARD subgroups, using MTX as reference.
One-year drug survival (95% CI) for the first anti-TNF therapy was 71% (71% to 72%) but this dropped to 42% (41% to 43%) at 5 years. Compared with MTX, patients receiving no DMARD, LEF or SSZ were more likely to discontinue their first anti-TNF therapy while patients receiving MTX in combination with other DMARDs showed better treatment persistence.
These results support the continued use of background DMARD combinations which include MTX. Consideration should be given to the discontinuation of LEF and SSZ monotherapy at the time anti-TNF therapies are started, with the possible exception of the SSZ+ETN combination.
Anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) therapy is a mainstay of treatment in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In 2001, BSRBR was established to evaluate the safety of these agents. This paper addresses the safety of anti-TNF therapy in RA with specific reference to serious skin and soft tissue infections (SSSI) and shingles.
A cohort of anti-TNF-treated patients was recruited alongside a comparator group with active RA treated with non-biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (nbDMARD). 11 881 anti-TNF and 3673 nbDMARD patients were analysed. Follow-up was by 6-monthly questionnaires to patients and clinicians. Analyses considered SSSI and shingles separately. Incidence rates (IR) were calculated and then compared using survival analyses.
The crude IR for SSSI were: anti-TNF 1.6/100 patient-years (95% CI 1.4 to 1.8); nbDMARD 0.7/100 patient-years (95% CI 0.5 to 1.0) and shingles: anti-TNF 1.6/100 patient-years (95% CI 1.3 to 2.0); nbDMARD 0.8/100 patient-years (95% CI 0.6 to 1.1). Adjusted HR were SSSI 1.4 (95% CI 0.9 to 2.4), shingles 1.8 (95% CI 1.2 to 2.8). For SSSI, no significant differences were seen between anti-TNF agents. For shingles, the lowest risk was observed for adalimumab (adjusted HR vs nbDMARD) 1.5 (95% CI 1.1 to 2.0) and highest for infliximab (HR 2.2; 95% CI 1.4 to 3.4)).
A significantly increased risk of shingles was observed in the anti-TNF-treated cohort. The risk of SSSI tended towards being greater with anti-TNF treatment but was not statistically significant. As with any observational dataset cause and effect cannot be established with certainty as residual confounding may remain. This finding would support the evaluation of zoster vaccination in this population.
Past studies have reported conflicting rates of venous thrombotic events (VTEs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The current study aimed to compare (1) the rates of VTEs in patients with RA treated with anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy versus those treated with non-biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (nbDMARDs) alone and (2) the rates between each individual anti-TNF agent and nbDMARDs.
Using data from the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register, a national prospective observational cohort study of biological safety in patients with RA, the authors compared the incidence of VTEs between 11 881 anti-TNF- and 3673 nbDMARD-treated patients. Analysis was limited to the first VTE per person. HRs were calculated using Cox modelling. Adjustment was made for potential confounders including surgery performed during follow-up.
A total of 196 first VTEs were reported (151 anti-TNF, 45 nbDMARD). Overall there was no difference in the rates of VTEs between anti-TNF- and nbDMARD-treated patients (adjusted HR 0.8 (95% CI 0.5 to 1.5)). The risk was similar across all anti-TNF agents. Rates of postoperative VTEs did not significantly differ between groups.
These data suggest that anti-TNF therapy is not associated with an increased risk of VTEs in RA patients.
Anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α treatments improve outcome in severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and are efficacious in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. However recent case reports describe psoriasis occurring as an adverse event in patients with RA receiving anti-TNFα therapy.
We aimed to determine whether the incidence rate of psoriasis was higher in patients with RA treated with anti-TNFα therapy compared to those treated with traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). We also compared the incidence rates of psoriasis between the three anti-TNFα drugs licensed for RA.
We studied 9826 anti-TNF-treated and 2880 DMARD-treated patients with severe RA from The British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register (BSRBR). All patients reported with new onset psoriasis as an adverse event were included in the analysis. Incidence rates of psoriasis were calculated as events/1000 person years and compared using incidence rate ratios (IRR).
In all, 25 incident cases of psoriasis in patients receiving anti-TNFα therapy and none in the comparison cohort were reported between January 2001 and July 2007. The absence of any cases in the comparison cohort precluded a direct comparison; however the crude incidence rate of psoriasis in those treated with anti-TNFα therapy was elevated at 1.04 (95% CI 0.67 to 1.54) per 1000 person years compared to the rate of 0 (upper 97.5% CI 0.71) per 1000 person years in the patients treated with DMARDs. Patients treated with adalimumab had a significantly higher rate of incident psoriasis compared to patients treated with etanercept (IRR 4.6, 95% CI 1.7 to 12.1) and infliximab (IRR 3.5, 95% CI 1.3 to 9.3).
Results from this study suggest that the incidence of psoriasis is increased in patients treated with anti-TNFα therapy. Our findings also suggest that the incidence may be higher in patients treated with adalimumab.
Objective: To elicit treatment preferences of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) with varying risk profiles.
Methods: Patient values for 16 DMARD characteristics were ascertained using published data about side effects, effectiveness, and cost. Patient preferences were determined by Adaptive Conjoint Analysis, an interactive computer program that predicts preferences by asking patients to make trade-offs between specific treatment characteristics. Simulations were run to derive preferences for four drugs: methotrexate, gold, leflunomide, and etanercept, under different risk-benefit scenarios. Infliximab was not included because it is given with methotrexate, and we did not include preferences for combination therapy. Based on each patient's expressed preferences, and the characteristics of the treatments available at the time of the study, the option that best fitted each patient's perspective was identified.
Results: 120 patients (mean age 70 years) were interviewed. For the base case scenario (which assumed the maximum benefits reported in the literature, a low probability of adverse effects, and low equal monthly "co-pays" (out of pocket costs)), 95% of the respondents preferred etanercept over the other treatment options. When all four options were described as being equally effective, 88% continued to prefer etanercept owing to its safer short term adverse effect profile. Increasing etanercept's co-pay to $30.00 decreased the percentage of patients preferring this option to 80%.
Conclusions: In this study, older patients with RA, when asked to consider trade-offs between specific risk and benefits, preferred etanercept over other treatment options. Preference for etanercept is explained by older patients' risk aversion for drug toxicity.
Combinations of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are increasingly used to control active rheumatoid arthritis (RA); however there is little information about patients’ perspectives, their expectations, concerns and experiences of this intensive treatment.
We interviewed a quota sample of 18 patients from a single tertiary outpatient clinic, stratified by gender, ethnicity and age, based on the outpatient clinic population. Patients with early RA (<2 years) received combined conventional DMARDs; patients with established RA (>2 years) received combined conventional DMARDs or DMARDs with biologics.
Four main themes emerged from the analytical framework: (i) patients’ expectations about the combined treatment focuses mainly on physical symptoms; (ii) the impact of the treatment on quality of life varied with the new medication in both groups (iii) concerns about new interventions concentrated mainly on potential side effects; and (iv) combination therapy can be self-managed in close collaboration with clinic staff, but this requires individualised management approaches. These themes resonate with von Korff’s collaborative management of chronic illness model.
To our knowledge this is the first qualitative study that examined systematically in patients with early and established RA their expectations, impact on quality of life, concerns about side effects and the management of the treatment when taking combined medication with DMARDs or DMARDs and biologics. Patients have generally positive views of combination DMARDs. Within routine practice settings, achieving medication concordance with complex combined DMARD regimens is challenging, and the concerns vary between patients; careful individual assessments are essential to successfully deliver such intensive treatment.
Combination treatment; Qualitative study; Rheumatoid arthritis
Given the recent availability of novel biologic agents for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the Hong Kong Society of Rheumatology has developed consensus recommendations on the management of RA, which aim at providing guidance to local physicians on appropriate, literature-based management of this condition, specifically on the indications and monitoring of the biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). The recommendations were developed using the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) recommendations for the management of early arthritis as a guide, along with local expert opinion. As significant joint damage occurs early in the course of RA, initiating therapy early is key to minimizing further damage and disability. Patients with serious disease or poor prognosis should receive early, aggressive therapy. Because of its good efficacy and safety profile, methotrexate is considered the standard first-line DMARD for most treatment-naïve RA patients. Patients with a suboptimal response to methotrexate monotherapy should receive step-up (combination) therapy with either the synthetic or biologic DMARDs. In recent years, combinations of methotrexate with tocilizumab, abatacept, or rituximab have emerged as effective therapies in patients who are unresponsive to traditional DMARDs or the anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α agents. As biologic agents can increase the risk of infections such as tuberculosis and reactivation of viral hepatitis, screening for the presence of latent tuberculosis and chronic viral hepatitis carrier state is recommended before initiating therapy.
Hong Kong; Management; Recommendations; Rheumatoid arthritis
Biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) extend the treatment choices for rheumatoid arthritis patients with suboptimal response or intolerance to conventional DMARDs. The objective of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to compare the relative efficacy of EU-licensed bDMARD combination therapy or monotherapy for patients intolerant of or contraindicated to continued methotrexate.
Comprehensive, structured literature searches were conducted in Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Library, as well as hand-searching of conference proceedings and reference lists. Phase II or III randomized controlled trials reporting American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria scores of 20, 50, and 70 between 12 and 30 weeks’ follow-up and enrolling adult patients meeting ACR classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis previously treated with and with an inadequate response to conventional DMARDs were eligible. To estimate the relative efficacy of treatments whilst preserving the randomized comparisons within each trial, a Bayesian network meta-analysis was conducted in WinBUGS using fixed and random-effects, logit-link models fitted to the binomial ACR 20/50/70 trial data.
The systematic review identified 10,625 citations, and after a review of 2450 full-text papers, there were 29 and 14 eligible studies for the combination and monotherapy meta-analyses, respectively. In the combination analysis, all licensed bDMARD combinations had significantly higher odds of ACR 20/50/70 compared to DMARDs alone, except for the rituximab comparison, which did not reach significance for the ACR 70 outcome (based on the 95% credible interval). The etanercept combination was significantly better than the tumor necrosis factor-α inhibitors adalimumab and infliximab in improving ACR 20/50/70 outcomes, with no significant differences between the etanercept combination and certolizumab pegol or tocilizumab. Licensed-dose etanercept, adalimumab, and tocilizumab monotherapy were significantly better than placebo in improving ACR 20/50/70 outcomes. Sensitivity analysis indicated that including studies outside the target population could affect the results.
Licensed bDMARDs are efficacious in patients with an inadequate response to conventional therapy, but tumor necrosis factor-α inhibitor combination therapies are not equally effective.
bDMARD; rheumatoid arthritis; etanercept; systematic review; network metaanalysis; comparative effectiveness
The purpose of this research was to study the influence of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption on immune response to heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, immunoglobulin levels (Ig) and markers of systemic inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or spondylarthropathy (SpA).
In total, 505 patients were vaccinated. Six pre-specified groups were enrolled: RA on methotrexate (MTX) treatment in some cases other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) (I); RA on anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) as monotherapy (II); RA on anti-TNF+MTX+ possibly other DMARDs (III); SpA on anti-TNF as monotherapy (IV); SpA on anti-TNF+MTX+ possibly other DMARDs (V); and SpA on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and/or analgesics (VI). Smoking (pack-years) and alcohol consumption (g/week) were calculated from patient questionnaires. Ig, C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) were determined at vaccination. IgG antibodies against serotypes 23F and 6B were measured at vaccination and after four to six weeks using standard ELISA. Immune response (ratio between post- and pre-vaccination antibodies; immune response (IR)) and positive immune response (≥2-fold increase in pre-vaccination antibodies; posIR) were calculated.
Eighty-eight patients (17.4%) were current smokers. Smokers had higher CRP and ESR, lower IgG and lower IR for both serotypes (P between 0.012 and 0.045). RA patients on MTX who smoked ≥1pack-year had lower posIR for both serotypes (P = 0.021; OR 0.29; CI 0.1 to 0.7) compared to never-smokers. Alcohol consumption was associated with lower CRP (P = 0.05) and ESR (P = 0.003) but did not influence IR or Ig levels.
Smoking predicted impaired immune response to pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in RA patients on MTX. Smokers with arthritis had higher inflammatory markers and lower IgG regardless of diagnosis and treatment. Low to moderate alcohol consumption was related to lower levels of inflammation markers but had no impact on immune response.
EudraCT EU 2007-006539-29 and NCT00828997
Until the pathophysiology/etiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is better understood, treatment strategies must focus on disease management. Early diagnosis and treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are necessary to reduce early joint damage, functional loss, and mortality. Several clinical trials have now clearly shown that administering appropriate DMARDs early yields better therapeutic outcomes. However, RA is a heterogeneous disease in which responses to treatment vary considerably for any given patient. Thus, choosing which patients receive combination DMARDs, and which combinations, remains one of our major challenges in treating RA patients. In many well controlled clinical trials methotrexate and other DMARDs, including the tumor necrosis factor-α inhibitors, have shown considerable efficacy in controlling the inflammatory process, but many patients continue to have active disease. Optimizing clinical response requires the use of a full spectrum of clinical agents with different therapeutic targets. Newer therapies, such as rituximab, that specifically target B cells have emerged as viable treatment options for patients with RA.