Step-up TX leads to RA remission.
The results from the ongoing study showed that tightly controlled step-up treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can lead to disease remission in routine clinical practice.
The data were presented by Dr. Ina Kuper at the annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Paris.
The study population includes a cohort of consecutive patients from three Dutch hospitals with recently diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis identified from the Dutch Rheumatoid Arthritis Monitoring Registry since January 2006. Dr. Kuper and her research associates had complete data on 169 patients. As per study protocol, treatment comprises a step-up DMARD scheme aimed at remission, which is defined as a Disease Activity Score-28 of less than 2.6, said Dr. Kuper of Medisch Spectrum Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands.
After diagnosis, treatment begins with 15 mg per week of methotrexate, which is increased to 25 mg per week at 8 weeks if remission has not been achieved. The absence of remission at week 12 warrants the addition of 2 g of sulfasalazine per day, which can be increased to 3 g per day at week 20 if indicated.
At week 24, if remission has still not been reached, adalimumab is added to the methotrexate, with therapeutic adjustments--possibly using other tumor necrosis factor inhibitors--every 3 months based on DAS28, Dr. Kuper said. During the treatment period, patients can continue to take NSAIDs, 10 mg per day of prednisolone, and intra-articular corticosteroid injections, she said.
The baseline characteristics for the first 169 patients with a DAS28 greater than 3.2 at the beginning of the study were comparable across the three hospitals, Dr. Kuper noted. The mean age of the study participants, approximately 64% of whom were female, was 57.3 years, and the mean disease duration at diagnosis was 16 weeks.
By study week 8, 15.5% of the patients achieved remission. This number rose to 22.2% at week 12, 30.7% at week 20, 38.8% at week 24, and 52.1% at week 36, and was 51.0% between weeks 48 and 52, Dr. Kuper stated. Based on Kaplan-Meier survival curves, the estimated median time to first remission was 25 weeks, she said.
"The significance of this study is the fact that it demonstrates the possibility of achieving high remission rates in patients with recent-onset rheumatoid arthritis in daily clinical practice using a step-up DMARD regimen and tight control," Dr. said in an interview. This is the first evidence that such results can be attained in routine clinical practice, she said.
BY DIANA MAHONEY
New England Bureau