Effective and Cheaper Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Published: 2014-11-11 - Updated: 2021-04-03
Author: KU Leuven | Contact: med.kuleuven.be
Synopsis: New drug combination for RA treats the disease with less medication and fewer side effects at significantly lower cost. In the two-year study, called 'CareRA' (Care in early RA), researchers and clinicians in the rheumatology unit at University Hospitals Leuven examined various therapies for early RA. All three strategies showed a similarly high efficacy: disease remission was achieved in 7 in 10 patients after 16 weeks of treatment.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic auto-immune disease that causes pain and stiffness in the joints, fatigue, bone damage and, eventually, loss of mobility. RA afflicts around 1% of people in the western world; in Belgium, 80,000 to 100,000 people currently live with the disease.
In Other News:
Because there is no known cure for RA, physicians focus treatment on suppressing disease activity. Therapies have improved in recent years, and clinical studies show that intensive treatment of early RA can prevent joint damage and improve patients' quality of life.
In the two-year study, called 'CareRA' (Care in early RA), researchers and clinicians in the rheumatology unit at University Hospitals Leuven examined various therapies for early RA.
To find the optimal combination and dosage of three commonly prescribed antirheumatic drugs (methotrexate, sulfasalazine and leflunomide) in combination with glucocorticoids (a class of steroid hormones).
The researchers divided 290 early RA patients into three treatment groups. Each group received a different combination therapy:
- 'COBRA Classic' (methotrexate, sulfasalazine and a high first dose of glucocorticoids),
- 'COBRA Slim' (methotrexate and a moderate dose of glucocorticoids)
- or 'COBRA Avant-Garde' (methotrexate, leflunomide and a moderate dose of glucocorticoids).
Fewer Side Effects
All three strategies showed a similarly high efficacy: disease remission was achieved in 7 in 10 patients after 16 weeks of treatment. But results for the strategies varied significantly when it came to side effects.
The new COBRA Slim strategy, which calls for the least amount of medication, had half as many side effects as the two other strategies - and was just as effective. The strategy would also be easier to implement in daily practice because it is less complicated.
A broader use of this strategy would lead to higher remission rates in the global early RA population and would probably reduce the need for expensive second-line antirheumatic treatment, say the researchers.
"One surprising finding in the study was the high remission values recorded for all of the applied intensive treatment strategies, which were unprecedented internationally," says Diederik De Cock, doctoral researcher at the Research Center for Skeletal Biology and Engineering (KU Leuven).
"Methotrexate is very affordable, as are steroids," says Diederik De Cock.
"Implementing this therapy across Flanders would mean substantial savings. At the moment, RA treatment is not yet adequately standardized in Belgium, and this leads to treatment inefficiencies. As a result, more patients require expensive second-line antirheumatic therapies known as biologicals, which can cost up to 15,000 euros per year. By comparison, the COBRA Slim strategy costs less than 1,000 euros. In other words, we can treat up to 15 patients for the same price as a year of treatment with a biological," says Diederik De Cock.
This research benefited from the support of the IWT (Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology) and the Pfizer Chair for Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Management at the KU Leuven held by Professor Patrick Verschueren. The study was conducted in partnership with various rheumatology centers in Flanders.
Primary Information Source(s):
Effective and Cheaper Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis | KU Leuven (med.kuleuven.be). Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.
You're reading Disabled World. See our homepage for informative disability news, reviews, sports, stories and how-tos. You can also connect with us on social media such as Twitter and Facebook or learn more about Disabled World on our about us page.
Disclaimer: Disabled World provides general information only. Materials presented are in no way meant to be a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Any 3rd party offering or advertising on disabled-world.com does not constitute endorsement by Disabled World. View our Advertising Policy for further information. Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.
Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: KU Leuven. Electronic Publication Date: 2014-11-11 - Revised: 2021-04-03. Title: Effective and Cheaper Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Source: <a href=https://www.disabled-world.com/health/autoimmunediseases/rheumatoid-arthritis/cobra.php>Effective and Cheaper Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis</a>. Retrieved 2021-08-04, from https://www.disabled-world.com/health/autoimmunediseases/rheumatoid-arthritis/cobra.php - Reference: DW#191-10814.