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Systematic review for the treatment of older rheumatoid arthritis patients informing the 2024 update of the Japan College of Rheumatology clinical practice guidelines for the management of rheumatoid arthritis.

Modern Rheumatology 2024 March 7
OBJECTIVES: To update an evidence base informing the 2024 JCR clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) for the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in older adults.

METHODS: Four clinical questions (CQs) regarding efficacy and safety of drug treatment were evaluated, with CQ1 addressing methotrexate (MTX), CQ2 biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs), CQ3 Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, and CQ4 glucocorticoids (GCs). Quality of the evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation system.

RESULTS: Observational studies confirmed a pivotal role of MTX in the treatment of older RA patients. The meta-analysis showed that tumor necrosis factor inhibitors and JAK inhibitors were unequivocally effective in older RA patients. No data indicated that bDMARDs were unsafe for older patients. No safety data for JAK inhibitor use in older patients were available. One randomized controlled trial demonstrated that long-term treatment with low-dose GCs increased risks of GC-associated adverse events. The certainty of overall evidence was very low for all CQs.

CONCLUSION: This systematic review provides the necessary evidence for developing 2024 JCR CPGs for managing older patients with RA. Continued updates on the evidence of JAK inhibitors and GC are desired.

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