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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers given Enbrel (etanercept) combined with methotrexate are three times less likely to be forced to stop work, according to a report published in the journal Rheumatology.
Absenteeism is also reduced by half, according to the Comet study, which notes that the disability costs an estimated 15 billion euros (£13 billion) a year in lost productivity across Europe.
Says Professor Aslam Anis, at the University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health: “Keeping a person gainfully employed represents a benefit to society.
“The fact that half of the work stoppages occurred in the first three months of this trial, together with the fact that there were significantly fewer work stoppages in the Enbrel-methotrexate combination group, underscore the importance of early and aggressive treatment of RA.”
The disease is chronic and progressive, and affects 2.9 million people in Europe. It can cause permanent damage to the joints, resulting in deformity and loss of independence.
Copyright Press Association 2009