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Arthritis Rheum. 1993 Jun;36(6):795-803.

Low-dose methotrexate with leucovorin (folinic acid) in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. Results of a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

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1
Division of Rheumatology, Montreal General Hospital, Quebec, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether the side effects of methotrexate can be decreased by the concurrent use of leucovorin, without affecting the efficacy of the methotrexate.

METHODS:

We conducted a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of leucovorin administration, 2.5-5.0 mg orally, to be given 24 hours after the single, weekly, oral dose of methotrexate. Every 3 weeks for 52 weeks, patients were evaluated for rheumatic disease activity and side effects. Dosage adjustments for both methotrexate and leucovorin were made as needed, according to a defined protocol. The primary outcome evaluated was the frequency of study withdrawals because of side effects and/or inefficacy. Secondary outcomes evaluated included the frequency of side effects and the relative efficacy of methotrexate in the leucovorin and placebo treatment groups.

RESULTS:

Ninety-two evaluable patients were analyzed (44 took leucovorin and 48 placebo). Twenty-two patients withdrew early because of side effects unresponsive to our protocol, and 1 because of inefficacy; 17 had been taking placebo and 6 had been taking leucovorin (35% versus 14%, P < 0.02). The number of visits during which side effects were reported was reduced by almost 50% in the leucovorin treatment group (P < 0.001). There were significant reductions in the frequencies of all common side effects. At 52 weeks, disease activity was similar in both patient groups.

CONCLUSION:

The methotrexate-leucovorin protocol used significantly reduces common side effects of methotrexate therapy without significantly altering efficacy.

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PMID:
8507221
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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