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At Least 50% of Recent Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Become Free of Signs and Symptoms Within 36 Weeks

The results of a systematic step-up DMARD treatment schedule in combination with tight control


PARIS, France, Wednesday June 11th 2008: At least 50% of recent onset rheumatoid arthritis patients achieve remission (a state free of signs and symptoms) within 36 weeks when following a systematic approach of step-up DMARD treatment in combination with tight control, according to results of a study presented today at EULAR 2008, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Paris, France. Results of this study indicate that achieving remission is not only possible during clinical trials but can be a realistic goal of standard clinical care.

Of 169 early RA patients, remission (defined as DAS28<2.6) was achieved in 15.5% at week 8 (23/148), 22.2% at week 12 (24/108), 30.7 at week 20 (23/75), 38.8% at week 24 (33/85), 52.1% at week 36 (38/73) and 51% at week 48-52 (26/51).

The researchers achieved these results through implementation of a tightly regulated DMARD treatment scheme, as follows:

Methotrexate 15mg/week was initiated following diagnosis If remission was not achieved at week 8, the dose was increased to 25mg/week If not achieved at week 12, sulfasalazine was added (2grams/day) If not achieved at week 20, the dose was increased to 3grams/day If not achieved at week 24 adalimumab was added to methotrexate Every 3 months thereafter, therapy could be adjusted based on DAS28, also using other TNF-blockers. Patients were allowed to take NSAIDs, and prednisolone ?10mg/day and intra-articular corticosteroid injections could be administered Dr. H. Kuper and Prof M. van de Laar of Medisch Spectrum Twente & University Twente, the Netherlands, who led the study, said; "In many large clinical trials, remission can be considered a realistic goal. We set out to determine whether all patients presenting in daily clinical practice can reasonably expect to achieve a state free of signs and symptoms, if a strict treatment schedule was followed. Our results show that remission is indeed achievable in as many as half of clinical practice patients following this schedule, which could indicate that remission is a realistic treatment goal of daily clinical practice."

As part of the Dutch Rheumatoid Arthritis Monitoring Registry (DREAM), investigators performed a prospective descriptive study of a cohort of recent onset rheumatoid arthritis DMARD-naïve, patients in daily clinical practice, between January 2006 and January 2008. 190 consecutive patients with recently diagnosed RA under the care of the rheumatology clinics of three hospitals in the Netherlands were included. Results were taken from the first 169 patients with DAS28>3.2 at inclusion.

At baseline, patient characteristics between the hospitals were comparable – average patient age was 57.3 years (13.7), 63.9% were female, 52.7% of which were rheumatoid factor positive, with an average disease duration of 16 weeks (1-52), ESR 33.2 (20.5), CRP 23.5 (26.4), DAS28 5.1 (1.1), HAQ 1.3 (0.6).

For further information on this study, or to request an interview with the study lead, please do not hesitate to contact the EULAR congress press office on:

Email: eularpressoffice@uk.cohnwolfe.com  

Rory Berrie: Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7789 270 392

Camilla Dormer: Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7876 190 439

Abstract number: OP-0003

About EULAR

The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is the organisation which represents the patient, health professional and scientific societies of rheumatology of all the European nations. The aims of EULAR are to reduce the burden of rheumatic diseases on the individual and society and to improve the treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal diseases. To this end, EULAR fosters excellence in education and research in the field of rheumatology. It promotes the translation of research advances into daily care and fights for the recognition of the needs of people with musculoskeletal diseases by the governing bodies in Europe. Diseases of bones and joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis cause disability in 4 - 5 % of the adult population and are predicted to rise as people live longer. As new treatments emerge and cellular mechanisms are discovered, EULAR 2008 brings together more than 12,000 experts - scientists, clinicians, healthcare workers, pharmaceutical companies and patients - to share their knowledge in a global endeavour to challenge the pain and disability caused by musculo-skeletal disorders. To find out more information about the activities of EULAR, visit: www.eular.org

 

Posted: June 2008

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