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These results were presented at the 2013 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology.

Biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are potent RA drugs that help control disease symptoms and reduce joint damage. They are often used if patients have an inadequate response to traditional DMARDs such as methotrexate.

To examination the rate at which RA patients discontinue or change biologic treatment, researchers collected information about 6,209 patients who started treatment with a biologic drug. Eighty-one percent of the patients were taking a type of biologic drug known as a TNF inhibitor.

  • Roughly half of patients discontinued or changed biologic treatments in the first two years.
  • The most common reason for discontinuation or change was loss of efficacy. Other reasons included safety issues, physician or patient preference, and problems with access.
  • Factors that increased the likelihood of discontinuation or change included higher RA disease activity and patient report of anxiety or depression.
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These results indicate that roughly half of all RA patients who start treatment with a biologic drug will discontinue or change treatment within two years. Lack of efficacy was the most common reason for discontinuation or change of biologic treatment, but other more subjective factors also appear to play a role.

Reference: Strand V, Williams S, Miller PSJ et al. Discontinuation of biologic therapy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA): analysis from the Consortium of Rheumatology Researchers of North America (CORRONA) database. Presented at the 2013 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR 2013). June 12-15, 2013; Madrid. Abstract OP0064.