JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Adalimumab added to a treat-to-target strategy with methotrexate and intra-articular triamcinolone in early rheumatoid arthritis increased remission rates, function and quality of life. The OPERA Study: an investigator-initiated, randomised, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial

Kim Hørslev-Petersen, Merete Lund Hetland, Peter Junker, Jan Pødenphant, Torkell Ellingsen, Palle Ahlquist, Hanne Lindegaard, Asta Linauskas, Annette Schlemmer, Mette Yde Dam, Ib Hansen, Hans Christian Horn, Christian Gytz Ammitzbøll, Anette Jørgensen, Sophine B Krintel, Johnny Raun, Julia S Johansen, Mikkel Østergaard, Kristian Stengaard-Pedersen
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2014, 73 (4): 654-61
23434570

OBJECTIVES: An investigator-initiated, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, treat-to-target protocol (Clinical Trials:NCT00660647) studied whether adalimumab added to methotrexate and intra-articular triamcinolone as first-line treatment in early rheumatoid arthritis (ERA) increased the frequency of low disease activity (DAS28CRP<3.2) at 12 months.

METHODS: In 14 Danish hospital-based clinics, 180 disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD)-naïve ERA patients (<6 months duration) received methotrexate 7.5 mg/week (increased to 20 mg/week within 2 months) plus adalimumab 40 mg every other week (adalimumab-group, n=89) or methotrexate+placebo-adalimumab (placebo-group, n=91). At all visits, triamcinolone was injected into swollen joints (max. four joints/visit). If low disease activity was not achieved, sulfasalazine 2 g/day and hydroxychloroquine 200 mg/day were added after 3 months, and open-label biologics after 6-9 months. Efficacy was assessed primarily on the proportion of patients who reached treatment target (DAS28CRP<3.2). Secondary endpoints included DAS28CRP, remission, Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), EQ-5D and SF-12. Analysis was by intention-to-treat with last observation carried forward.

RESULTS: Baseline characteristics were similar between groups. In the adalimumab group/placebo group the 12-month cumulative triamcinolone doses were 5.4/7.0 ml (p=0.08). Triple therapy was applied in 18/27 patients (p=0.17). At 12 months, DAS28CRP<3.2 was reached in 80%/76% (p=0.65) and DAS28CRP was 2.0 (1.7-5.2) (medians (5th/95th percentile ranges)), versus 2.6 (1.7-4.7) (p=0.009). Remission rates were: DAS28CRP<2.6: 74%/49%, Clinical Disease Activity Index≤2.8: 61%/41%, Simplified Disease Activity Index<3.3: 57%/37%, European League Against Rheumatism/American College of Rheumatology Boolean: 48%/30% (0.0008<p<0.014, number-needed-to-treat: 4.0-5.4). Twelve months HAQ, SF12PCS and EQ-5D improvements were most pronounced in the adalimumab group. Treatments were well tolerated.

CONCLUSIONS: Adalimumab added to methotrexate and intra-articular triamcinolone as first-line treatment did not increase the proportion of patients who reached the DAS28CRP<3.2 treatment target, but improved DAS28CRP, remission rates, function and quality of life in DMARD-naïve ERA.

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