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Benefits of early aggressive RA treatment extend over long-term

Reuters Health • The Doctor's Channel Daily Newscast

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Treating rheumatoid arthritis aggressively in the early stages, aiming for remission, produces good outcomes that are maintained for at least a decade- this according to a report published in Arthritis Research & Therapy.

The researchers report on radiographic findings in the trial participants at 11 years, The team found that 72% of patients originally in the single treatment arm had no erosive changes in large joints at 11 years compared with 87% of those in the combination treatment group. Larsen scores were 27 vs. 17, respectively.

Data from the trial also show that aggressive treatments given later in the disease course did not seem to have as much effect as they did in early disease, the researcher explained. “One could even think that once remission and preventing joint damage were achieved early, those could later be maintained with fewer medications.”

Summing up, the researchers concluded: “My advice to physicians treating RA would be to treat the disease aggressively from the beginning, aiming at remission, and to realize that excellent results can be achieved even with old, inexpensive DMARDs, especially when they are used in combinations.”


Arthritis Rheum 2010.