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Br J Rheumatol. 1997 Oct;36(10):1082-8.

Combination of sulphasalazine and methotrexate versus the single components in early rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, 52 week clinical trial.

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Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


To compare the efficacy of sulphasalazine, methotrexate, and the combination of both in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), not treated with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs previously, we conducted a double-blind, double-dummy, controlled, clinical trial. One hundred and five patients with active, early RA, rheumatoid factor and/or HLA DR1/4 positive were randomized between sulphasalazine (SSZ) 2000 (maximum 3000) mg daily, or methotrexate (MTX) 7.5 (maximum 15) mg weekly, or the combination (COMBI) of both, and were followed up by a single observer for 52 weeks. The mean change over time per patient, including all visits, in Disease Activity Score (DAS) was: SSZ: -1.6 (95% CI -2.0 to -1.2); MTX: -1.7 (-2.0 to -1.4); COMBI: -1.9 (-2.2 to -1.6); the difference week 0-week 52 (SSZ, MTX, COMBI respectively); DAS: -1.8, -2.0, -2.3, Ritchie articular index: -9.2, -9.5, -10.6, swollen joints: -9.2, -12.4, -14.3, erythrocyte sedimentation rate: -17, -21, -28. Nausea occurred significantly more in the COMBI group. The numbers of drop-outs due to toxicity were SSZ 9, MTX 2, COMBI 5. In conclusion, there were no significant differences in efficacy between combination and single therapy, only a modest trend favouring COMBI. The results of MTX and SSZ were very comparable. Nausea occurred more often in the COMBI group: the number of withdrawals due to adverse events did not differ significantly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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