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Joint Bone Spine. 2013 Mar;80(2):160-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2012.05.003. Epub 2012 Jul 4.

Disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis patients at initiation of biologic agents and 1 year of treatment: results from the Swiss SCQM registry.

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Service de rhumatologie, DAL, CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland.



In Switzerland, the prescription of biologic antirheumatic agents in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients is not limited by stringent requirements from health authorities. The goals of this study were to: determine the characteristics of the Swiss patients at the initiation of biologics, compare them with other countries and evaluate whether different disease activity levels at initiation of therapy, resulting from distinct access to these treatment, influence their effectiveness.


This is a retrospective cohort study of RA patients followed in the Swiss register (SCQM-RA). Two thousand and sixty patients treated with biologics were retrieved. We present the disease characteristics and the patients' demographic data, at initiation and some effectiveness data after 1 year of treatment.


Two thousand and sixty patients treated with biologics were retrieved. At initiation of treatment, the mean disease activity DAS (SD): 4.4 (1.4), number of previous antirheumatic treatments: 1.1, functional status HAQ: 1.1 (0.7) and median duration of illness: 5.5 years were significantly lower than in other published registries. The mean DAS: 3.3 (1.4) 1 year after initiation of therapy also appears lower than in other countries. Additionally, patients treated more recently (after 2005) had a significantly higher improvement in mean DAS.


Data from the Swiss RA registry demonstrate that biologics are prescribed at a lower level of disease activity and after fewer prior DMARD failures than in most other countries, a practice that seems to correlate with overall lower absolute levels of disease activity and better patient outcomes after 1 year of treatment.

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