[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To report the safety and efficacy of leflunomide (LEF) in combination with infliximab (INF) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
In an open, multicenter, retrospective study, data were collected on the safety and efficacy of LEF and INF.
Eighty-eight patients received the combination of LEF and INF for an average of 6.6 months and a total exposure of 581 patient-months. The mean duration of LEF was 17 +/- 9 months (range 3-32 months; median 18.5 months) with an average of 4.8 INF infusions per patient. In all but 3 subjects, LEF was used initially and INF was added later. Infusion reactions occurred in 3 patients (0.7% of all infusions). A total of 34% of subjects experienced adverse events and in 6 (6.8% of the group) these were deemed serious. Ten infections occurred when patients were taking the combination; 9 patients recovered fully and 1 died of bacterial pneumonia. A lifetime smoker developed lung cancer and another patient was found to have colon cancer.
The adverse events noted within the combination therapy group were in keeping with the known risks of each drug when used individually. Limited data were available on efficacy, but a general improvement in disease control was noted with the combination of drugs, which for most patients involved the addition of INF to previous use of LEF.