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Rheumatol Int. 2010 Mar;30(5):709-12. doi: 10.1007/s00296-009-1302-z. Epub 2009 Dec 12.

Rituximab and concomitant leflunomide for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

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Department of Internal Medicine II (Oncology, Haematology, Immunology, Rheumatology, Pulmology), University Hospital Tuebingen, Otfried-Mueller-Str. 10, 72076, Tuebingen, Germany.


Rituximab has only been approved in combination with methotrexate for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. As some patients have intolerance to methotrexate, alternative co-therapies are needed. This method involved retrospective analysis of ten patients treated with a combination of rituximab and leflunomide. Primary outcome measures were the DAS28 response at month 6 and the time to relapse. The median initial DAS 28 of 5.7 (3.2-7.2) was reduced to 3.5 (1.9-6.1) at month 6. 70% of the patients achieved a good or moderate response, whereas 30% showed no response. Two patients had to stop leflunomide due to adverse effects. Two patients had to reduce the leflunomide dose to 10 mg/day. 5/8 patients experienced a relapse after a median of 10 (6-30) months and were successfully re-treated with rituximab. This small case series suggests that leflunomide might offer an alternative DMARD combination option for the treatment of RA with rituximab.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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