According to a report published online July 1, 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine, treatment with a biologic drug was not better than conventional treatment with DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) at decreasing work loss over a 21-month period in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis. In a randomized clinical trial conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, monthly sick leave and disability pension days were assessed in those who were unable to achieve low disease activity after 3 or 4 months on methotrexate. At that point, patients were randomly assigned to receive Remicade (infliximab) or sulfasalazine in combination with hydroxychloroquine.
In both groups, there was an average of 17 days work loss per month at baseline (when the two groups were randomly assigned treatment). At 21 months there were 4.9 fewer days work loss in the group treated with the biologic drug infliximab compared to 6.2 fewer days lost per month in those treated with the combination of two DMARDs (sulfasalazine plus hydroxychloroquine). Both treatment regimens slowed the pace of lost work days, but the biologic drug was not superior in this regard.
Photo by Ed Hidden (iStockphoto)