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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2019 Jul 22. [Epub ahead of print]

Monotherapy is a relevant option in rheumatoid arthritis treatment: a literature review.

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Rheumatology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Padova, Italy.
Medical Department, Pfizer Italia, Rome, Italy.


The latest revision of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) recommendations for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment maintains the indication for the combined therapy of biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) and targeted synthetic DMARDs (tsDMARDs), namely Jak-inhibitors as tofacitinib and baricitinib, with conventional synthetic DMARDs (csDMARDs). Moreover, the use of bDMARDs and tsDMARDs should be restricted to patients who failed to achieve an adequate response to one or more csDMARDs, in accordance with the current evidence showing the superiority of combination therapy over monotherapy. In patients who cannot use csDMARDs as comedication, IL-6 inhibitors and tsDMARDs should be preferred to other bDMARDs because they are apparently more effective as monotherapy. Registry and real-world data demonstrate that monotherapy is far more commonly used than expected based on treatment recommendations, currently being about 30% of patients with RA on bDMARD monotherapy. We review here the literature on most commonly used DMARDs in monotherapy for RA. Our review points at an increasing evidence of the potential of some bDMARDs and tsDMARDs in monotherapy, which may become a considerable and realistic option in RA patients.


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