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Scand J Rheumatol. 1995;24(6):330-5.

Comparison of intramuscular gold and sulphasalazine in the treatment of early rheumatoid arthritis. A one year prospective study.

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Department of Rheumatology, Kivelä Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.


We compared the effects of intramuscular gold and sulphasalazine on early, active rheumatoid arthritis in 128 consecutive patients. Intramuscular gold was started in the first 70 consecutive patients and sulphasalazine in the subsequent 58 patients. The patient groups were comparable with regard to clinical characteristics. In both groups clinical and laboratory parameters improved, but there was no significant difference between the two groups. The clinical improvement was most pronounced during the first three months. However, despite the clinical improvement a clear progression in radiological changes was observed in both groups, 40% of the patients taking gold and 48% of patients taking sulphasalazine discontinued the treatment because of adverse drug reactions or inefficacy during the one year follow-up. Adverse drug reactions were the main reason in both groups. These findings suggest that intramuscular gold and sulphasalazine seem to have an equal, positive effect on symptoms and clinical variables, but that radiological progression does occur in most patients none the less.

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