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German guidelines for the sequential medical treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with traditional and biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

The German Society of Rheumatology approved new German guidelines for the sequential medical treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) based on the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) recommendations for the management of RA published in 2010. An update of the EULAR systematic literature research was performed in Medline, Embase, and Cochrane databases. Meta-analyses, controlled trials, cohort studies, and registry data addressing traditional and biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, glucocorticoids, and treatment strategies published between January 2009 and August 2011 were included. Two reviewers independently evaluated and compared the additional data that had been published after the time limit set by the EULAR recommendations. A national guideline working group developed an adapted set of recommendations. The new German guidelines were accepted by vote using an informal Delphi approach. Twelve recommendations and the resulting updated treatment algorithm were developed and approved as a practical orientation for rheumatologists. These recommendations are based on a successive treatment with traditional and biologic disease-modifying drugs depending on the individual progress of the disease and distinct patient characteristics. The German guidelines have been developed on the basis of the internationally well-recognized EULAR recommendations. In addition, more recent evidence from a systematic literature research was considered. They have been developed and approved by a group of national experts aiming at guidance for rheumatologists to reach best medical practice.

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