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1.  Effectiveness and safety of tapentadol prolonged release with tapentadol immediate release on-demand for the management of severe, chronic osteoarthritis-related knee pain: results of an open-label, phase 3b study 
Journal of Pain Research  2012;5:121-138.
This open-label, phase 3b study ( Identifier: NCT00983073) evaluated the effectiveness, and tolerability of tapentadol for severe, chronic osteoarthritis knee pain that was inadequately managed with World Health Organization (WHO) Step I or II analgesics or co-analgesics, or that was not treated with regular analgesics. Prior to starting study treatment, patients discontinued any WHO Step II analgesics, while Step I analgesics and/or co-analgesics were continued at the same dose. Patients received tapentadol prolonged release (50–250 mg bid) during a 5-week titration period and a 7-week maintenance period. Doses of tapentadol immediate release 50 mg (≤twice/day; ≥4 hours apart) were permitted throughout the study (total daily dose of tapentadol prolonged and immediate release, ≤250 mg bid). The primary endpoint was the change in pain intensity on an 11-point numerical rating scale-3 (NRS-3; recalled average pain intensity [11-point NRS] during the last 3 days) from baseline to Week 6, using the last observation carried forward (LOCF) to impute missing pain intensity scores. The mean (standard deviation) change from baseline to Week 6 (LOCF) in pain intensity was −3.4 (2.10; P < 0.0001) for all patients evaluated for effectiveness (n = 195). Significant decreases in pain intensity were also observed at Weeks 6, 8, and 12 (all P < 0.0001) using observed-case analysis. Corresponding significant improvements from baseline to Weeks 6 and 12 were observed in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities osteoarthritis index, the EuroQol-5 Dimension health status questionnaire, the Short Form-36 health survey, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (all P ≤ 0.0103). Treatment-emergent adverse events were in line with those observed in previous studies of tapentadol prolonged release. Overall, the results of this study indicate that tapentadol treatment results in significant improvements in pain intensity, health-related quality of life, and function in patients with inadequately managed, severe, chronic osteoarthritis knee pain.
PMCID: PMC3392842  PMID: 22792000
tapentadol; osteoarthritis; chronic pain; opioid
2.  Opioids in Chronic Musculoskeletal Conditions 
The use of opioids for benign disorders has been limited by concerns about these compounds' potential adverse events and their possible misuse. However, during the last few years an increased use in nonmalignant disorders, including rheumatologic diseases, has been observed. Herein, we review the scientific evidence for opioid therapy in three common scenarios in clinical rheumatology. Low back pain is a very frequent reason for consultation. Overall, the large majority of studies show a positive, yet rather moderate, effect of opioids in pain control, as well as in other outcomes including mood, work disability and anxiety. Similarly, opioids seem to have a role in the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis; indeed, they have been included in all international guidelines for the treatment of these conditions. However, clinical studies addressing opioid use in clinical situations are plagued by methodological limitations; furthermore, the large majority of these studies only provide short-term information about opiod utilization in these patients. Finally, opioids are currently being used as complementary therapy in inflammatory joint conditions whereby they may significantly improve the quality of life of some of these patients. Regarding their safety, severe adverse events, including abnormal drug-seeking behaviour, are very rare, but mild adverse events are frequent leading to drug discontinuation in a significant number of cases.
PMCID: PMC3383507  PMID: 22870455
opioid; arthritis; osteoarthritis; low back pain
3.  Validation of the Spanish, Portuguese and French Versions of the Lupus Damage Index Questionnaire: Data from North and South America, Spain and Portugal 
Lupus  2009;18(12):1033-1052.
We have previously developed and validated a self-administered questionnaire, modeled after the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Damage Index (SDI), the Lupus Damage Index Questionnaire (LDIQ), which may allow the ascertainment of this construct in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) patients followed in the community and thus expand observations made about damage. We have now translated, back-translated and adapted the LDIQ to Spanish, Portuguese and French and applied it to patients followed at academic and non-academic centers in North and South America, Portugal and Spain while their physicians scored the SDI. A total of 887 patients (659 Spanish-, 140 Portuguese- and 80 French-speaking) and 40 physicians participated. Overall patients scored higher than their physicians (total score and all domains) for all versions of the LDIQ. Infrequent manifestations had less than optional clinimetric properties but overall agreement was over 95% for the majority of items. The larger sample size may explain the higher correlations observed among the Spanish-speaking patients. Pending minor adjustments, the LDIQ may prove to be useful in community-based studies. The relationship between the LDIQ and other outcome parameters is currently being investigated in a different patient sample.
PMCID: PMC2933049  PMID: 19762375
4.  Effect of hydroxychloroquine on the survival of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: data from LUMINA, a multiethnic US cohort (LUMINA L) 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(9):1168-1172.
In patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), hydroxychloroquine prevents disease flares and damage accrual and facilitates the response to mycophenolate mofetil in those with renal involvement. A study was undertaken to determine whether hydroxychloroquine also exerts a protective effect on survival.
Patients with SLE from the multiethnic LUMINA (LUpus in MInorities: NAture vs nurture) cohort were studied. A case‐control study was performed within the context of this cohort in which deceased patients (cases) were matched for disease duration (within 6 months) with alive patients (controls) in a proportion of 3:1. Survival was the outcome of interest. Propensity scores were derived by logistic regression to adjust for confounding by indication as patients with SLE with milder disease manifestations are more likely to be prescribed hydroxychloroquine. A conditional logistic regression model was used to estimate the risk of death and hydroxychloroquine use with and without the propensity score as the adjustment variable.
There were 608 patients, of whom 61 had died (cases). Hydroxychloroquine had a protective effect on survival (OR 0.128 (95% CI 0.054 to 0.301 for hydroxychloroquine alone and OR 0.319 (95% CI 0.118 to 0.864) after adding the propensity score). As expected, the propensity score itself was also protective.
Hydroxychloroquine, which overall is well tolerated by patients with SLE, has a protective effect on survival which is evident even after taking into consideration the factors associated with treatment decisions. This information is of importance to all clinicians involved in the care of patients with SLE.
PMCID: PMC1955128  PMID: 17389655
5.  Cardiovascular disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: results from the QUEST-RA study 
We analyzed the prevalence of cardiovascular (CV) disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and its association with traditional CV risk factors, clinical features of RA, and the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in a multinational cross-sectional cohort of nonselected consecutive outpatients with RA (The Questionnaires in Standard Monitoring of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Program, or QUEST-RA) who were receiving regular clinical care.
The study involved a clinical assessment by a rheumatologist and a self-report questionnaire by patients. The clinical assessment included a review of clinical features of RA and exposure to DMARDs over the course of RA. Comorbidities were recorded; CV morbidity included myocardial infarction, angina, coronary disease, coronary bypass surgery, and stroke. Traditional risk factors recorded were hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, smoking, physical inactivity, and body mass index. Unadjusted and adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) (95% confidence interval [CI]) for CV morbidity were calculated using Cox proportional hazard regression models.
Between January 2005 and October 2006, the QUEST-RA project included 4,363 patients from 48 sites in 15 countries; 78% were female, more than 90% were Caucasian, and the mean age was 57 years. The prevalence for lifetime CV events in the entire sample was 3.2% for myocardial infarction, 1.9% for stroke, and 9.3% for any CV event. The prevalence for CV risk factors was 32% for hypertension, 14% for hyperlipidemia, 8% for diabetes, 43% for ever-smoking, 73% for physical inactivity, and 18% for obesity. Traditional risk factors except obesity and physical inactivity were significantly associated with CV morbidity. There was an association between any CV event and age and male gender and between extra-articular disease and myocardial infarction. Prolonged exposure to methotrexate (HR 0.85; 95% CI 0.81 to 0.89), leflunomide (HR 0.59; 95% CI 0.43 to 0.79), sulfasalazine (HR 0.92; 95% CI 0.87 to 0.98), glucocorticoids (HR 0.95; 95% CI 0.92 to 0.98), and biologic agents (HR 0.42; 95% CI 0.21 to 0.81; P < 0.05) was associated with a reduction of the risk of CV morbidity; analyses were adjusted for traditional risk factors and countries.
In conclusion, prolonged use of treatments such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, glucocorticoids, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha blockers appears to be associated with a reduced risk of CV disease. In addition to traditional risk factors, extra-articular disease was associated with the occurrence of myocardial infarction in patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC2453774  PMID: 18325087

Results 1-5 (5)