Therapies for Active Rheumatoid Arthritis after Methotrexate Failure

White River Junction VA Medical Center, White River Junction, VT (T.H.T.)
New England Journal of Medicine (Impact Factor: 55.87). 06/2013; 369(4). DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1303006
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Background:
Few blinded trials have compared conventional therapy consisting of a combination of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs with biologic agents in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have active disease despite treatment with methotrexate--a common scenario in the management of rheumatoid arthritis.

We conducted a 48-week, double-blind, noninferiority trial in which we randomly assigned 353 participants with rheumatoid arthritis who had active disease despite methotrexate therapy to a triple regimen of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine) or etanercept plus methotrexate. Patients who did not have an improvement at 24 weeks according to a prespecified threshold were switched in a blinded fashion to the other therapy. The primary outcome was improvement in the Disease Activity Score for 28-joint counts (DAS28, with scores ranging from 2 to 10 and higher scores indicating more disease activity) at week 48.

Both groups had significant improvement over the course of the first 24 weeks (P=0.001 for the comparison with baseline). A total of 27% of participants in each group required a switch in treatment at 24 weeks. Participants in both groups who switched therapies had improvement after switching (P<0.001), and the response after switching did not differ significantly between the two groups (P=0.08). The change between baseline and 48 weeks in the DAS28 was similar in the two groups (-2.1 with triple therapy and -2.3 with etanercept and methotrexate, P=0.26); triple therapy was noninferior to etanercept and methotrexate, since the 95% upper confidence limit of 0.41 for the difference in change in DAS28 was below the margin for noninferiority of 0.6 (P=0.002). There were no significant between-group differences in secondary outcomes, including radiographic progression, pain, and health-related quality of life, or in major adverse events associated with the medications.

With respect to clinical benefit, triple therapy, with sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine added to methotrexate, was noninferior to etanercept plus methotrexate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had active disease despite methotrexate therapy. (Funded by the Cooperative Studies Program, Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research and Development, and others; CSP 551 RACAT number, NCT00405275.)

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Available from: Thomas H Taylor, Sep 28, 2015
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    • "Therefore confirmation of the present results in direct comparison studies and meta-analyses would be desirable. Recently, a few such studies did confirm that the effect of triple DMARD therapy was comparable with the effect of TNFi plus methotrexate [5]–[7]. These studies, which were published after the date of our final literature search, did not fulfill our inclusion criteria, as they did not use a single DMARD therapy treatment arm. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Despite significant cost differences, the comparative effect of combination treatments of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) with and without biologic agents has rarely been examined. Thus we performed a network meta-analysis on the effect of combination therapies on progression of radiographic joint erosions in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Methods and Findings The following combination drug therapies compared versus single DMARD were investigated: Double DMARD: 2 DMARDs (methotrexate, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, injectable gold, cyclosporine, chloroquine, azathioprin, penicillamin) or 1 DMARD plus low dose glucocorticoid (LDGC); triple DMARD: 3 DMARDs or 2 DMARDs plus LDGC; biologic combination: 1 DMARD plus biologic agent (tumor necrosis factor α inhibitor (TNFi) or abatacept or tocilizumab or CD20 inhibitor (CD20i)). Randomized controlled trials were identified in a search of electronic archives of biomedical literature and included in a star-shaped network meta-analysis and reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement protocol. Effects are reported as standardized mean differences (SMD). The effects of data from 39 trials published in the period 1989–2012 were as follows: Double DMARD: −0.32 SMD (CI: −0.42, −0.22); triple DMARD: −0.46 SMD (CI: −0.60, −0.31); 1 DMARD plus TNFi: −0.30 SMD (CI: −0.36, −0.25); 1 DMARD plus abatacept: −0.20 SMD (CI: −0.33, −0.07); 1 DMARD plus tocilizumab: −0.34 SMD (CI: −0.48, −0.20); 1 DMARD plus CD20i: −0.32 SMD (CI: −0.40, −0.24). The indirect comparisons showed similar effects between combination treatments apart from triple DMARD being significantly better than abatacept plus methotrexate (−0.26 SMD (CI: −0.45, −0.07)) and TNFi plus methotrexate (−0.16 SMD (CI: −0.31, −0.01)). Conclusion Combination treatment of a biologic agent with 1 DMARD is not superior to 2–3 DMARDs including or excluding LDGC in preventing structural joint damage. Future randomized studies of biologic agents should be compared versus a combination of DMARDs.
    PLoS ONE 09/2014; 9(9-9):e106408-. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0106408 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "This study further confirmed that triple DMARD induction therapy is better than MTX monotherapy, and suggested that oral and intramuscular glucocorticoids were equally effective as bridging therapy. Another study showed that both triple therapy (sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine and MTX) and combination therapy (etanercept plus MTX) were effective in patients with RA who had active disease despite MTX therapy [15]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite considerable advances in the management of rheumatoid arthritis, results are still not satisfactory for all patients. The treatment goal in rheumatoid arthritis is remission, and there currently are numerous conventional and biological medications available to reach this aim. There are also different treatment strategies but with only limited comparative evidence about their efficacies. More patients now achieve remission while on treatment, but it remains elusive in the majority of patients. Treatment-free remission, the ultimate goal of therapy, is only achieved in very few patients; even when this happens, it is most likely due to the natural course of the disease rather than to any specific therapies. Modern treatment is based on the initiation of aggressive therapy as soon as the diagnosis is established, and on modifying or intensifying therapy guided by frequent assessment of disease activity. In this commentary we will discuss the current treatment paradigm as well as the possibility of an induction-maintenance regimen with biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in early rheumatoid arthritis.
    BMC Medicine 02/2014; 12(1):25. DOI:10.1186/1741-7015-12-25 · 7.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine whether intensive combinations of synthetic disease modifying drugs can achieve similar clinical benefits at lower costs to high cost biologics such as tumour necrosis factor inhibitors in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis resistant to initial methotrexate and other synthetic disease modifying drugs. Open label pragmatic randomised multicentre two arm non-inferiority trial over 12 months. 24 rheumatology clinics in England. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were eligible for treatment with tumour necrosis factor inhibitors according to current English guidance were randomised to either the tumour necrosis factor inhibitor strategy or the combined disease modifying drug strategy. Biologic strategy: start tumour necrosis factor inhibitor; second biologic in six month for non-responders. Alternative strategy: start combination of disease modifying drugs; start tumour necrosis factor inhibitors after six months in non-responders. Primary outcome: reduction in disability at 12 months measured with patient recorded heath assessment questionnaire (range 0.00-3.00) with a 0.22 non-inferiority margin for combination treatment versus the biologic strategy. quality of life, joint damage, disease activity, adverse events, and costs. Intention to treat analysis used multiple imputation methods for missing data. 432 patients were screened: 107 were randomised to tumour necrosis factor inhibitors and 101 started taking; 107 were randomised to the combined drug strategy and 104 started taking the drugs. Initial assessments were similar; 16 patients were lost to follow-up (seven with the tumour necrosis factor inhibitor strategy, nine with the combined drug strategy); 42 discontinued the intervention but were followed-up (19 and 23, respectively). The primary outcome showed mean falls in scores on the health assessment questionnaire of -0.30 with the tumour necrosis factor inhibitor strategy and -0.45 with the alternative combined drug strategy. The difference between groups in unadjusted linear regression analysis favoured the alternative strategy of combined drugs. The mean difference was -0.14, and the 95% confidence interval (-0.29 to 0.01) was below the prespecified non-inferiority boundary of 0.22. Improvements at 12 months in secondary outcomes, including quality of life and erosive progression, were similar with both strategies. Initial reductions in disease activity were greater with the biologic strategy, but these differences did not persist beyond six months. Remission was seen in 72 patients (44 with biologic strategy; 36 with alternative strategy); 28 patients had serious adverse events (18 and 10, respectively); six and 10 patients, respectively, stopped treatment because of toxicity. The alternative strategy reduced health and social care costs per patient by £3615 (€4930, $5585) for months 0-6 and £1930 for months 6-12. In patients with active rheumatoid arthritis who meet English criteria for biologics an alternative strategy with combinations of intensive synthetic disease modifying drugs gives non-inferior outcomes to treatment with tumour necrosis factor inhibitors. Costs are reduced substantially.Trial Registration ISRCTN 37438295. © Scott et al 2015.
    BMJ Clinical Research 03/2015; 350(mar13 19):h1046. DOI:10.1136/bmj.h1046 · 14.09 Impact Factor
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