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Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis Early

Studies Show Early, Aggressive Treatment May Lead to Remission

Early Treatment

The second study, dubbed the BeSt study, involved a three-year follow-up that compared four of the most widely used treatments for early rheumatoid arthritis.

After two years, 55% of people treated with methotrexate plus Remicade were able to stop Remicade without relapsing and then taper off of methotrexate. By the third year, a substantial number of patients who had stopped taking Remicade were able to stop taking methotrexate and remained disease-free.

"We are very excited because this very new approach to disease hit them very early and hit them very hard with a combination of drugs," leading to remission and discontinuation of the drugs, says researcher Cornelia F. Allaart, MD, a rheumatologist at Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, Netherlands.

Caution Urged

"These were highly selected study populations from small, highly selected study centers," cautions Iain B. McInnes, FRCP, PhD, professor of experimental medicine and rheumatology at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. "We need a whole lot more data before we can apply this to our practice," he tells WebMD. "It looks like there is a window of opportunity early in disease, but how we best target it, when we should start treatment, what drugs we should use -- and on who -- is not yet known."


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