Venous thrombotic events are not increased in patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with anti-TNF therapy: results from the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register

Rebecca Davies, James B Galloway, Kath D Watson, Mark Lunt, Deborah P M Symmons, Kimme L Hyrich
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2011, 70 (10): 1831-4

OBJECTIVES: Past studies have reported conflicting rates of venous thrombotic events (VTEs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The current study aimed to compare (1) the rates of VTEs in patients with RA treated with anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy versus those treated with non-biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (nbDMARDs) alone and (2) the rates between each individual anti-TNF agent and nbDMARDs.

METHODS: Using data from the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register, a national prospective observational cohort study of biological safety in patients with RA, the authors compared the incidence of VTEs between 11 881 anti-TNF- and 3673 nbDMARD-treated patients. Analysis was limited to the first VTE per person. HRs were calculated using Cox modelling. Adjustment was made for potential confounders including surgery performed during follow-up.

RESULTS: A total of 196 first VTEs were reported (151 anti-TNF, 45 nbDMARD). Overall there was no difference in the rates of VTEs between anti-TNF- and nbDMARD-treated patients (adjusted HR 0.8 (95% CI 0.5 to 1.5)). The risk was similar across all anti-TNF agents. Rates of postoperative VTEs did not significantly differ between groups.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that anti-TNF therapy is not associated with an increased risk of VTEs in RA patients.

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