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J Rheumatol. 1991 Feb;18(2):188-94.

Toxicity profiles of disease modifying antirheumatic drugs in rheumatoid arthritis.

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Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA.


The toxicity profiles of 7 disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD) (hydroxychloroquine, intramuscular (im) gold, D-penicillamine, oral gold, methotrexate (MTX), azathioprine and cyclophosphamide) were evaluated in 2,479 patients with rheumatoid arthritis consecutively enrolled at 5 centers in the Arthritis, Rheumatism and Aging Medical Information System (ARAMIS) program. Incidence rates for side effects are reported as events/1000 patient-years. Our descriptive study revealed an individual profile of prevalent toxicities for each drug. Oral gold was characterized by substantial lower gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity (diarrhea 391 events/1000 patient-years, loose bowel movement 148, lower abdominal pain 76), MTX by hepatotoxicity (47) while D-penicillamine had the only clinically significant incidence of altered taste (40). MTX users reported the most mucosal ulcers (87), followed by oral gold (76), im gold (55) and D-penicillamine (38). Rash was frequently seen with gold compounds and D-penicillamine, while upper GI toxicity was common with immunosuppressive agents. Cyclophosphamide had 48% discontinuations within 6 months. MTX had the lowest discontinuation rate in the first 6 months, but then showed little difference from im gold. A preliminary similarity index was developed to compare the toxicity profiles of various DMARD. Close similarities were found between toxicity profiles of im gold and D-penicillamine, and between azathioprine and MTX. Oral gold had a unique toxicity pattern. Knowledge of these different toxicity patterns can enable more appropriate selection of agents for particular patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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