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J Rheumatol. 2004 Aug;31(8):1532-7.

Etanercept (Enbrel) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis with recent onset versus established disease: improvement in disability.

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  • 1Physician's Clinic of Spokane, Spokane, Washington 99204, USA.



To compare etanercept-induced improvement in disability of patients with recent onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to that of patients with established RA.


Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) scores were collected over 3 years in 2 groups of patients with RA who were treated with etanercept. The first group consisted of 207 patients with recent onset RA (mean duration of 1 year) who had not previously received methotrexate, and the second group consisted of 464 patients with established RA (mean duration of 12 years) who had failed one or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.


Baseline demographics and disease characteristics were similar in the 2 groups, except for HAQ scores and C-reactive protein levels, which were higher in the established RA group. Patients in both groups showed rapid and sustained clinical responses with etanercept therapy, but patients with recent onset RA showed significantly greater improvement in HAQ scores compared with patients with established RA. The difference in magnitude of HAQ score improvement between groups was observed as early as week 2 after initiation of etanercept and persisted throughout the 3-year time frame. At year 3, significantly more patients with recent onset RA had a HAQ score of zero (26%) versus those with established RA (14%, p = 0.0095).


Although etanercept therapy significantly improved disability scores in both groups, patients with recent onset of RA showed greater benefit in HAQ scores than patients with established RA. These results support prompt treatment of RA at an early stage of disease to minimize patient disability.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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