CLINICAL TRIAL
COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, NON-P.H.S.
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Comparison of sulfasalazine and placebo in the treatment of reactive arthritis (Reiter's syndrome). A Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether sulfasalazine (SSZ) at a dosage of 2,000 mg/day is effective in the treatment of reactive arthritis (ReA) that has been unresponsive to nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) therapy.

METHODS: One hundred thirty-four patients with ReA who had failed to respond to NSAIDs were recruited from 19 clinics, randomized (double-blind) to receive either SSZ or placebo, and followed up for 36 weeks. The definition of treatment response was based on joint pain/tenderness and swelling scores and physician and patient global assessments.

RESULTS: Longitudinal analysis revealed improvement in the patients taking SSZ compared with those taking placebo, which appeared at 4 weeks and continued through the trial (P = 0.02). At the end of treatment, response rates were 62.3% for SSZ treatment compared with 47.7% for placebo treatment. The Westergren erythrocyte sedimentation rate declined more with SSZ treatment than with placebo (P < 0.0001). Adverse reactions were fewer than expected and were mainly due to nonspecific gastrointestinal complaints.

CONCLUSION: SSZ at a dosage of 2,000 mg/day is well tolerated and effective in patients with chronically active ReA.

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