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Combined RA therapy ‘a success’


Patients suffering from active, early stage, moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can see major benefits with a combined treatment of methotrexate and etanercept, research has found.

According to a study published in the Lancet, the combined treatment can prompt much improved remission and radiographic non-progression rates within 12 months compared with just methotrexate.

Moreover, patients are also more likely to be in good enough health to remain in employment.

A research team from the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, gave 268 patients a starting dose of 7.5 mg per week to a maximum 20 mg per week at the end of 8 weeks. They also gave 274 patients the same dosage plus entanercept, administered at 50 mg per week.

Of those who received the combined treatment 50% achieved remission, while 94% of this group had a good to moderate response.

Meanwhile, the methotrexate only group had a 28% remission rate, making the combined group members almost twice as likely to achieve remission.

In a comparison of radiographic non-progression, 80% of combined treatment patients achieved the mark, while only 58% achieved this in the only methotrexate group. The serious adverse events were similar in the two groups.

Paul Emery, Professor of Rheumatology at Leeds wrote: “The results of the COMET trial suggest that remission is an achievable goal in patients with early severe RA within the first year of therapy with etanercept plus methotrexate.

“The positive clinical outcomes in the combination treatment group also seem to determine the ability of patients to remain in employment. Furthermore, these outcomes appear to be achieved without exposing patients to significant additional risk.”

Copyright PA Business 2008

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