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J Rheumatol. 2001 Jun;28(6):1431-52.

Management of rheumatoid arthritis: the historical context.

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  • 1University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1717-6th Avenue South, SRC 068, Birmingham, AL 35294-7201, USA.


We review the historical highlights of the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Studies of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, disease modifying antirheumatic drugs, and biological agents over 5 decades were evaluated and summarized. There is emphasis on drug therapy as it has developed and evolved from empirical relief of symptoms with salicylates to targeted intervention in the immunoinflammatory process with tumor necrosis factor inhibitors. A therapeutic paradigm has been proposed to rationalize the use of the available therapies. If one accepts the thesis that both the acute and chronic consequences of RA are due to persistent misdirected and inadequately controlled inflammation that causes tissue destruction and loss of function, then prolonged complete control of the abnormal inflammatory process is the fundamental first step in the management of all patients with RA. Unfortunately, even with the newest therapeutic options to treat RA, most patients achieve only partial suppression of inflammation and many lose therapeutic benefit after an initial good response. The management of persistent or recurrent rheumatoid inflammation and disability continues to be a challenge. It remains to be determined whether the future addition of more potent specific interventions in the immunoinflammatory process will be able to solve this problem without disarming host defenses against infections and tumors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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