Biologic discontinuation strategies and outcomes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Giulio Cavalli, Ennio Giulio Favalli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Introduction: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, systemic autoimmune disease, which affects joints as well as extra-articular tissues. In the last decades, increasing targeted therapeutic options dramatically improved RA management by doubling the rate of patients achieving clinical remission. Currently, there is a need for management strategies aimed at limiting treatment-related adverse events and costs in good responders. Areas covered: Data on de-escalation of biologic drugs (especially for anti-TNF agents) are mainly available from post-hoc analyses of randomized controlled trials and from registry-based observational studies. This narrative review illustrates the rationales for dose tapering and expands to provide an overview of the efficacy of the different available strategies for reducing the exposure to biologic drugs in patients achieving a sustained clinical response. Selected studies are discussed as illustrative examples. Expert opinion: Withdrawal of biologic therapy might be attempted in limited patients with very early RA; conversely, established RA is more suitably managed with a progressive decrease of drug regimen, by either dose reduction or injection/infusion spacing. Further studies investigating potential factors predicting post-tapering disease relapse are warranted, in order to better identify the best candidates for a decreased-dose approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1322
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Review of Clinical Immunology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2 2019


  • Anti-TNF
  • biologic agents
  • costs
  • dose
  • efficacy
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • safety
  • spacing
  • tapering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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