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Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs Satisfy Most

Most Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Are Satisfied With -- and Slow to Change -- Their RA Drugs
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 28, 2007 -- Rheumatoid arthritis patients tend to be satisfied with their rheumatoid arthritis treatments and reluctant to change those medications.

That's according to a new study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism's July edition.

In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the body's immune system attacks and gradually degrades the joints. It can also affect other areas of the body.

The new study included 6,135 rheumatoid arthritis patients. They were nearly 63 years old, on average; most were women.

The patients completed surveys designed by researchers Frederick Wolfe, MD, and Kaleb Michaud, PhD, of the National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases in Wichita, Kan.

The surveys featured 11 questions about the patients' views of rheumatoid arthritis treatments.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Survey

More than three-quarters of the patients -- 77% -- expressed satisfaction with their current rheumatoid arthritis therapy.

Nearly two-thirds of the group -- about 64% -- indicated that they would not want to change their rheumatoid arthritis treatment as long as their condition didn't worsen.

However, an objective measure of the severity of the patients' symptoms suggests that the patients still had physical difficulties related to rheumatoid arthritis.

The patients' satisfaction may be based on the fact that their rheumatoid arthritis hadn't worsened, note the researchers.

Drug Side Effects Concern RA Patients

The patients expressed concerns about the possible side effects of rheumatoid arthritis drugs.

Two-thirds of the group reported ever experiencing a side effect from a rheumatoid arthritis medication, and more than one in five had had side effects in the six months before the study.

That may partly explain their reluctance to switch drugs.

"Generally, patients were concerned about the risk of side effects (72.5%) and losing control of their arthritis (68.1%)," write the researchers, adding that patients may have misconceptions about the drugs' potential side effects.

But fear wasn't the only reason why patients were loyal to their RA drugs.

Two-thirds of the patients indicated that they thought there were no medications better than their current drugs. More than half of the group reported that getting new tests and dealing with their insurance companies to switch drugs would be a hassle.

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