In recent years, there have been major advances in the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), leading to the development of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists. With these agents, it is possible to arrest joint damage and, by treating early in the disease course, to prevent joint damage. It is also now thought that early treatment can achieve clinical remission in a substantial proportion of patients. With these increased expectations, a change is required in the way clinical improvement and drug efficacy is measured. The existing standard endpoint commonly used in RA clinical trials, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20% response measure, is inadequate for the new goals of therapy that should be based on clinical remission and radiographic assessment. Adalimumab, a fully human anti-TNF monoclonal antibody, has been shown to be effective in achieving remission and preventing radiographic progression of joint damage in patients with RA and other inflammatory arthropathies, including psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. In a placebo-controlled trial in patients with early RA, combination treatment with adalimumab plus methotrexate (MTX) has been shown to be superior to either treatment alone in inducing significant clinical remission while being generally well tolerated. Compared with monotherapy, combination therapy resulted in significantly more patients (49% vs 25%; p <0.001) remaining in clinical remission after 2 years. Suppression of joint damage assessed by the degree of inhibition of radiographic progression was also significantly higher for patients treated with adalimumab plus MTX (and with adalimumab alone) at 6 months, 1 and 2 years than for those treated with MTX alone. These data support the notion that clinical remission is a realistic therapeutic goal in patients with RA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis