Factors Associated With the Initiation of Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs in Newly Diagnosed Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Retrospective Claims Database Study

Thomson Reuters Healthcare, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Clinical Therapeutics (Impact Factor: 2.73). 02/2012; 34(2):457-67. DOI: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2011.12.016
Source: PubMed


The objectives of this study were to quantify the proportion of US patients with newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in whom disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) therapy was initiated within 12 months following diagnosis, to determine mean time to initiation, to compare the characteristics of initiators versus noninitiators, and to identify factors associated with noninitiation.
A retrospective study was conducted using claims from the databases of commercial managed care and Medicare supplemental managed care to identify patients with claims containing codes for RA dated January 1, 2004, through September 30, 2008. The percentage of patients with RA and a prescription for a DMARD within 12 months after the index date (initiators) was evaluated. The characteristics of DMARD initiators and noninitiators during the preindex period were compared, including demographic and clinical characteristics, health care resource utilization, and cost variables. The probability of DMARD initiation was determined using survival analysis. Multivariate analysis was performed to estimate mean time from diagnosis to DMARD initiation based on demographic and clinical variables.
Of 26,911 patients with newly diagnosed RA identified in the database searches, 63% had been prescribed a DMARD within 12 months after diagnosis. DMARD initiators were significantly more likely to have had a rheumatologist visit and rheumatoid factor testing and were more likely to have received a corticosteroid and/or an NSAID (all, P < 0.001). DMARD initiators had significantly lower total costs ($10,534 vs $12,725, respectively) and pharmacy drug costs ($2438 vs $2822) over the preindex period compared with noninitiators (both, P < 0.001). Independent factors associated with a greater likelihood of DMARD initiation included a rheumatologist visit, rheumatoid factor testing, NSAID use, and corticosteroid use. Age ≥85 years and the presence of comorbidities were associated with a significantly lower likelihood of DMARD initiation.
Among managed care enrollees in the present analysis, 37% of patients newly diagnosed with RA were not being treated with DMARDs in the first 12 months after diagnosis. Time to DMARD initiation plateaued after 90 days, suggesting that if a patient was not prescribed a DMARD soon after RA diagnosis, he or she was not likely to receive one.

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    • "The diagnosis and early therapy of RA are very crucial, because, if untreated, up to 30% patients with newly diagnosed RA are unable to work within 3 years of diagnosis [7]. At present, there is no cure of RA and it is most commonly treated with a combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biological agents [13] [14] [15] [16]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In this article, the 2010 European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (sDMARDs and bDMARDs, respectively) have been updated. The 2013 update has been developed by an international task force, which based its decisions mostly on evidence from three systematic literature reviews (one each on sDMARDs, including glucocorticoids, bDMARDs and safety aspects of DMARD therapy); treatment strategies were also covered by the searches. The evidence presented was discussed and summarised by the experts in the course of a consensus finding and voting process. Levels of evidence and grades of recommendations were derived and levels of agreement (strengths of recommendations) were determined. Fourteen recommendations were developed (instead of 15 in 2010). Some of the 2010 recommendations were deleted, and others were amended or split. The recommendations cover general aspects, such as attainment of remission or low disease activity using a treat-to-target approach, and the need for shared decision-making between rheumatologists and patients. The more specific items relate to starting DMARD therapy using a conventional sDMARD (csDMARD) strategy in combination with glucocorticoids, followed by the addition of a bDMARD or another csDMARD strategy (after stratification by presence or absence of adverse risk factors) if the treatment target is not reached within 6 months (or improvement not seen at 3 months). Tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (adalimumab, certolizumab pegol, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab, biosimilars), abatacept, tocilizumab and, under certain circumstances, rituximab are essentially considered to have similar efficacy and safety. If the first bDMARD strategy fails, any other bDMARD may be used. The recommendations also address tofacitinib as a targeted sDMARD (tsDMARD), which is recommended, where licensed, after use of at least one bDMARD. Biosimilars are also addressed. These recommendations are intended to inform rheumatologists, patients, national rheumatology societies and other stakeholders about EULAR's most recent consensus on the management of RA with sDMARDs, glucocorticoids and bDMARDs. They are based on evidence and expert opinion and intended to improve outcome in patients with RA.
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