[Clinical experience with TNF-alpha inhibitors in rheumatoid arthritis]

Marianne Wallenius, Erik Rødevand, Johan Fredrik Skomsvoll
Tidsskrift for Den Norske Lægeforening: Tidsskrift for Praktisk Medicin, Ny Række 2005 June 16, 125 (12): 1664-6

BACKGROUND: Infliximab and etanercept, both tumour necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors, are proven to be effective in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in randomised controlled trials.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Patients with active rheumatoid arthritis were treated with infliximab (n = 29) or etanercept (n = 24) in clinical hospital practice. They were examined before and during treatment. All patients had tried at least one DMARD before. Details of disease activity were monitored by measuring tender and swollen joints, global and pain patient visual analogue scales, Disease Activity Index Score (DAS 28), the Modified Health Assessment Questionnaire, blood and urine samples, and adverse effects. The patients were monitored regularly for two years or until they stopped treatment.

RESULTS: In the infliximab group we observed statistically significantly better values for all the registered variables after 6 weeks. At the other times of registration the variables were varying a lot; however, DAS 28 scores after baseline were all within the limits of moderate effect. In the etanercept group we observed statistically significantly better values for all the variables except for erythrocyte sedimentation rate after 6 weeks. At the other times of registration all the variables had significantly better values. Adverse effects were reported in 9 patients in the infliximab group and in 5 in the etanercept group, but no serious adverse effects were reported. 18 patients in the infliximab group (61%) and 10 in the etanercept group (42%) had stopped treatment within two years, either because of adverse effects or lack of effect.

CONCLUSION: In this open study of patients with active rheumatoid arthritis, most experienced a rapid effect of infliximab, but a varying effect later on. In the etanercept group the patients experienced both a rapid and sustained effect among those who tolerated the medication. Compared to what several others have reported, a large number of patients stopped treatment; this may reflect limited experience.

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