Skip to content

Drug Combo Fights Rheumatoid Arthritis

Study Shows Boost in RA Remission With Enbrel and Methotrexate
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 15, 2008 -- In the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, taking the drugs Enbrel and methotrexate may make remission more likely than taking methotrexate alone, a new study shows.

The study, published in The Lancet, included 542 rheumatoid arthritis patients in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Australia.

For two years, all of the patients took methotrexate pills. Methotrexate has long been a cornerstone of rheumatoid arthritis treatment. The patients also got a weekly injection -- some got shots of the biologic drug Enbrel; others got a placebo shot.

So far, results are in for the first year of the study.

During that time, half of the patients taking Enbrel and methotrexate had their rheumatoid arthritis go into remission, compared to 28% of those taking methotrexate alone. And rheumatoid arthritis at least didn't worsen on X-ray in 80% of the Enbrel-plus-methotrexate group, compared to 59% of those only taking methotrexate.

Side effects were similar in both groups, according to the researchers, who included Paul Emery, MD, a professor at the University of Leeds in England.

Enbrel is marketed in the U.S. by the drug companies Amgen and Wyeth. Wyeth funded and designed the study, collected the data, and helped analyze the data, according to The Lancet.

An editorial published with the study points out that methotrexate injections might have been more effective than oral methotrexate.

The long-term risks, benefits, and cost-effectiveness of Enbrel-plus-methotrexate treatment should also be studied, notes editorialist Joel Kremer, MD, of the Center for Rheumatology at Albany Medical College in Albany, N.Y.

Today on WebMD

rubbing hands
Avoid these 6 common mistakes.
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Four that fight inflammation.
 
mature woman threading needle
How much do you know about these RA myths and facts?
Patients who take the product would get no
This may lead to worsening symptoms.
 
Lucille Ball
Slideshow
Hand bones X-ray
Article
 
prescription pills
Article
Woman massaging her neck
Quiz
 
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Slideshow
Woman rubbing shoulder
Slideshow
 
Working out with light weights
Video
arthritis
Article