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Ann Rheum Dis. 2009 Jul;68(7):1153-8. doi: 10.1136/ard.2008.093294. Epub 2008 Oct 17.

Clinical and radiological efficacy of initial vs delayed treatment with infliximab plus methotrexate in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands. smvanderkooij@lumc.nl

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To compare the clinical and radiological efficacy of initial vs delayed treatment with methotrexate (MTX) and infliximab (IFX) in patients with recent onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS:

In a post hoc analysis of the BeSt study (for Behandel Stratagieen, Dutch for treatment strategies), 117 patients who started initial MTX+IFX were compared with 67 patients who started MTX+IFX treatment after failing (disease activity score (DAS)>2.4; median delay to IFX: 13 months) on > or =3 traditional DMARDs. If the DAS remained >2.4, the protocol dictated IFX dose increases to 6, 7.5 and 10 mg/kg. In case of a DAS < or =2.4 for > or =6 months, IFX was tapered and finally stopped. We aimed to correct for allocation bias using propensity scores. Functional ability was measured by the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), radiological progression by Sharp/van der Heijde scoring (SHS).

RESULTS:

Baseline differences between the initial and delayed groups were no longer significant after propensity score adjustment. At 3 years after baseline, patients treated with initial MTX+IFX experienced more improvement in HAQ over time and were less likely to have SHS progression than patients treated with delayed MTX+IFX (p = 0.034). At 2 years after IFX initiation, more patients in the initial group compared with the delayed group could discontinue IFX after a good response (56% vs 29%, p = 0.008).

CONCLUSIONS:

The results of this post hoc analysis suggest that using MTX+IFX as initial treatment for patients with recent onset RA is more effective than reserving MTX+IFX for patients who failed on traditional DMARDs, with more HAQ improvement over time, more IFX discontinuation and less progression of joint damage.

PMID:
18930988
DOI:
10.1136/ard.2008.093294
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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