Using a combination of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) rather than just one DMARD to treat early rheumatoid arthritis results in higher long-term remission rates, Finnish researchers report in the May issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
“The present follow-up study shows that in patients with clinically active early rheumatoid arthritis, initial therapy with a combination of traditional DMARDs as compared with a single DMARD translates into improved long-term outcomes in terms of clinical disease activity and remissions,” according to author Dr. Vappu Rantalaiho the lead researcher.
Dr. Rantalaiho, from Tampere University Hospital, and his co-researchers explain that the recent findings have suggested that early and aggressive therapy with DMARDs can actually modify the short-term disease course. It is not clear however, whether this approach has any impact on the long-term prognosis.
As far as adverse side effects are concerned, the researchers reported that even with long-term treatment, combinations of various DMARDs appear to be safe. “No unexpected adverse effects were found in either group after 2, 5, or 11 years of treatment. Also, the observed mortality rate was equal to that in the general population. This finding is consistent with those of some previous studies.”