Cheaper drugs produce same benefits for rheumatoid arthritis, study finds

June 13, 2013 by Will Ackerman

James O'Dell, M.D., chief of the Veterans Administration Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System's Omaha medical center and the UNMC divisions of rheumatology and immunology, is the primary author of a study that has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the large U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs cooperative blinded study that compared the effectiveness of drug therapies for , Dr. O'Dell and his fellow researchers found that the use of less expensive combination disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) produced the same clinical benefits as much more expensive .

In a 48-week study, researchers compared the strategy of first starting oral, "triple therapy" DMARDS, methotrexate, sulfasalazine and , to that of first starting one DMARD (methotrexate) plus etanercept. Etanercept is part of a class of injectable drugs called factors (TNF) antagonist or anti-TNF therapy, also known as biologics.

"Before the study, there was a general belief that biologics have significantly more potency, but this study has proven that not to be the case in this patient population," said Dr. O'Dell. "The study shows when is used before biologics, there should be a significant cost savings not only to patients, but to the ."

The study included 353 patients at 16 VA medical centers, 12 rheumatoid arthritis investigational network sites and eight Canadian medical centers, which included the Omaha VA Medical Center and The Nebraska Medical Center. The double-blind study is one where neither the patients nor their physicians knew which regimen they were receiving.

Patients were divided into two groups: one took the triple therapy combination first, while the other took methotrexate and etanercept first for 24 weeks. Patients who didn't respond to either therapy were switched to the other therapy at 24 weeks for the last 24 weeks of the study. Patients in both groups who switched to the other therapy improved, but the response after switching was not significantly different between the two study groups.

The final study outcome was that both strategies resulted in significant and similar improvement over 48 weeks. In addition there were no significant differences in secondary outcomes including radiographic progression, pain, health-related quality of life or for the most part adverse events associated with any of the medications.

Results, now on the New England Journal of Medicine's web page, will also appear in the July 25 print edition.

Explore further: Rheumatoid arthritis patients not taking their medications as prescribed

More information: www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/ … ?query=featured_home

Related Stories

Rheumatoid arthritis patients not taking their medications as prescribed

May 30, 2013
A new study conducted in an ethnically diverse and predominantly low income population found that only one-fifth of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients had an overall adherence rate to prescribed oral medications at 80% or ...

Data suggest smoking doesn't impact RA treatment response

December 21, 2012
(HealthDay)—For patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), smoking status does not impact treatment response to early combination therapy or initial methotrexate treatment with step-up therapy, according to a study ...

Long-term apremilast demonstrates continued efficacy in patients with psoriatic arthritis

June 12, 2013
New data presented today at EULAR 2013, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism show that apremilast administered to patients with psoriatic arthritis continues to demonstrate meaningful clinical responses ...

ACR updates guidelines for use of DMARDs and biologic drugs in treating rheumatoid arthritis

April 2, 2012
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has released the 2012 recommendations for the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic agents in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The guidelines ...

Use of biologic therapies for inflammatory diseases does not appear to increase risk of shingles

April 19, 2013
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who initiated use of anti-tumor necrosis factor therapies were not at a higher risk of developing herpes zoster (shingles), compared with patients who initiated nonbiologic treatment ...

Significant improvements in psoriatic arthritis with ustekinumab

June 12, 2013
New PSUMMIT 2* data first presented at EULAR 2013, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism, further demonstrate the efficacy of ustekinumab in Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA).

Recommended for you

Old World monkeys could be key to a new, powerful rheumatoid arthritis therapy

November 16, 2017
In the quest for a new and more effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC looked to a primate that mostly roams the land in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It was ...

Study lists foods for fighting rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and progression

November 8, 2017
A list of food items with proven beneficial effects on the progression and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is provided in a new study published today in Frontiers in Nutrition. The authors suggest incorporating these foods ...

Prototype equipment can detect rheumatoid arthritis

September 28, 2017
According to a first clinical study published in the scientific journal Photoacoustics, the University of Twente and various European partners have designed a device that shows the difference between healthy fingers and arthritic ...

Improving the recognition of anxiety and depression in rheumatoid arthritis

August 28, 2017
A study conducted by Keele University shows that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who are also suffering with anxiety or depression may avoid talking to their GP about their mental health symptoms.

How you think about your arthritis makes a difference

August 24, 2017
(HealthDay)—How well you cope with knee arthritis depends a lot on your mental outlook, a new study suggests.

Treating arthritis with algae

August 23, 2017
Researchers at ETH Zurich, Empa and the Norwegian research institute SINTEF are pursuing a new approach to treating arthritis. This is based on a polysaccharide, a long-chain sugar molecule, originating from brown algae. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.