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How RA treatments are reducing mortality

Thursday June 14th, 2018

Programmes of intensive treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis have successfully reduced mortality to normal levels, a major European conference has been told.

The findings of the 23-year-long study were reported to the conference of the European Congress of Rheumatology in Amsterdam.

Researchers said they highlighted the benefits of modern treatments in helping to prevent premature death among patients.

Researchers in Amsterdam studied 154 patients who took part in a trial of combination therapy in the 1990s. The trial compared sulphalasazine with sulphalasazine combined with low dose methotrexate and initial high doses of prednisolone.

During the 27 years, 27% of those on combination therapy died compared with 35% of a comparable sample in the general population. 30% of those on sulphalasazine died.

Researcher Professor Maarten Boers, of VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, said: “Our results confirm that early, intensive treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, including use of glucocorticoids, has long-term benefits.

"Importantly, this study is one of the first to show a normalisation of rheumatoid arthritis mortality compared to the general population after 23 years of follow-up."

Professor Robert Landewé, chairperson of the conference’s scientific programme committee, said: "We know that the adverse effects of rheumatoid arthritis on the body only become truly apparent after more than a decade.

"Therefore, it is really interesting to see these data supporting early therapy after such a long period of follow-up."

Poppelaars PBM, van Tuyl LHD, and Boers M. Mortality of the COBRA early rheumatoid arthritis trial cohort after 23 years follow up. EULAR 2018; Amsterdam: Abstract OP0015.

Tags: Europe | Pharmaceuticals | Rheumatology

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