Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Drugs Usher in Era of Hope for Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers

WebMD Health News

Nov. 29, 2000 -- Until recently, fairly toxic drugs were the only viable option to relieve the pain from rheumatoid arthritis. But according to two new studies, all of that has changed with the availability of newer drugs that target not only the symptoms of the arthritis, but can protect the joints from further damage.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common and extremely debilitating chronic autoimmune condition that affects more than two million Americans. The disease is called 'autoimmune' because the body's own immune system attacks the joints, and sometimes other organs, mistaking them as foreign objects. Most sufferers are women in their 30s and 40s who often have young children to care for, and the disease can leave them wheelchair bound.

In the studies, published in the Nov. 30, 2000 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, two drugs -- Enbrel and Remicade -- were compared to a cancer-fighting drug called methotrexate, which is currently the standard therapy for rheumatoid arthritis.

Both Enbrel and Remicade are members of a new class of drugs. Like methotrexate, they target the part of the immune system that attacks the joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. These new drugs, however, target a specific part of the immune system vs. the broader action of methotrexate.

"We're talking about a major advance in the therapy of rheumatoid arthritis," John H. Klippel, MD, tells WebMD. "We're using the science base that has been developed around rheumatoid arthritis to develop drugs that can be used to treat the disease, and we hope this is just the beginning." Klippel is medical director of the Arthritis Foundation based in Atlanta and author of an editorial that accompanied the two studies.

"One of the real goals has been to try to develop therapies that prevent damage to the joint, and we're now seeing therapies that do that. ... So, it is critically important that people with suspected rheumatoid arthritis see physicians who are knowledgeable about [these] new treatment approaches," he adds.

Mary Armitage from Ridgefield, Conn. tells WebMD about how rheumatoid arthritis has affected her life. "It started about nine years ago," she says, "with general, all over achiness, which settled in my ankle. For me, that was bad because my big passion is tap dancing." She tried several drugs only to have the symptoms disappear for a while and then reappear stronger than before. Pain also gradually showed up in her elbows and knees.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

rubbing hands
Avoid these 6 common mistakes.
mature couple exercising
Decrease pain, increase energy.
mature woman threading needle
How much do you know?
Swelling, fatigue, pain, and more.
Lucille Ball
Hand bones X-ray
prescription pills
Woman massaging her neck
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Woman rubbing shoulder
Working out with light weights