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

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

Drug Combination Eases Rheumatoid Arthritis

2 Drugs May Be Better Than 1 for Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
WebMD Health News

Feb. 26, 2004 -- A combination of two drugs commonly used separately to treat rheumatoid arthritis may be more effective in fighting the potentially crippling disease than using either drug alone.

A new study showed that a combination therapy of Enbrel (etanercept) and methotrexate provided better relief from symptoms than individual treatment with the drugs.

The drug combination also led to complete remission of the disease in more than twice as many patients compared with those treated with either drug alone.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 1% of the population and causes gradual deterioration of the joints. Researchers say that early treatment with combination drug therapy may help prevent destruction of the joints and slow the progression of the disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs Better Together

In the study, published in the Feb. 28 issue of The Lancet, researchers compared the effectiveness of treatment with Enbrel (given twice a week by injection) or weekly oral methotrexate alone to treatment with both drugs in 682 people with active rheumatoid arthritis. The effects of the three different treatments were assessed using standards set by the American College of Rheumatology.

After six months of treatment, the study showed that the drug combination provided better relief from symptoms than the individual therapies. After one year, 35% of patients given the combination therapy experienced a complete remission of their disease compared with 16% of those given Enbrel and 13% given methotrexate.

The study also showed that the combination therapy was more effective at preventing joint destruction and erosion, as demonstrated by X-rays.

Researchers say it's the first time a treatment has been shown to improve joint erosion in people with established rheumatoid arthritis. They say the finding suggests that repair of joints damaged by the disease may be possible.

In an editorial that accompanies the study, Armin Schnabel of the Klinik für Internistische Rheumatologie und Klinische Immunologie in Bad Wildbad, Germany says many patients benefit from several drug combinations that modify the progression of the disease. Much as in single drug therapy, combination therapy is not always universally effective and leaves a sizable number of patients with active inflammation.

Schnabel says the next generation of studies should target people in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis in order to see if there is a critical window of opportunity during which these combined therapies might offer the greatest benefits.

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
doctor and patient hand examination