Methotrexate monotherapy and methotrexate combination therapy with traditional and biologic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs for rheumatoid arthritis: abridged Cochrane systematic review and network meta-analysis

BMJ, 21 April 2016

This systematic review aims to compare methotrexate based disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) treatments for rheumatoid arthritis in patients naive to or with an inadequate response to methotrexate.

The study concludes that triple therapy (methotrexate plus sulfasalazine plus hydroxychloroquine) and most regimens combining biologic DMARDs with methotrexate were effective in controlling disease activity, and all were generally well tolerated in both methotrexate naive and methotrexate exposed patients.

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How to use biologic agents in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have comorbid disease

BMJ, 17 August 2015

Although biologic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) have improved the quality of life of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, side effects remain a problem, especially for patients with pre-existing comorbidities. Randomized controlled trials of such drugs in rheumatoid arthritis typically exclude patients with comorbidities and are of short duration, so they do not provide data on adverse events in these people. Other data sources such as national bDMARD registries are limited by the preselection of patients for both conventional synthetic chemical compound disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (csDMARDs) and bDMARDs, and although these databases document comorbidity, they rarely report its severity. This too limits definitive statements on the progression or resolution of pre-existing disease. Although bDMARDs may not be contraindicated in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and certain comorbid diseases, additional assessments or precautions are recommended. This review summarizes current data on the use of bDMARDs in people with rheumatoid arthritis and common comorbid diseases. It provides an evidence base for doctors and their patients when discussing and selecting the appropriate bDMARDs.

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