Arthritis Drugs & New Medications-2001 Meeting (cont.)

It was also reported by researchers from the Netherlands that a combination of Remicade/methotrexate prevents structural damage to the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, regardless of whether or not the patient was feeling better!

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: The fact that blocking TNF with drugs like Remicade and Enbrel stops disease progression has already been shown. The interesting point of this study is that they seem to prevent joint damage irrespective of whether patients' signs and symptoms of arthritis were improving. This seems to imply that the drug has an essential effect in stopping the rheumatoid disease.

Remicade or Enbrel treatments resulted in the increased ability of patients to work.

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: While it seems patently logical that controlling a disease that results in loss of function would help people return to the work place, it is good to see it documented.

Remicade was also effective for treating juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, thereby resulting in a significant and prompt reduction in disease activity and improved quality of life. Another paper presented data demonstrating that doses of Remicade that are higher than currently recommended doses could be effective and necessary in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: This does not surprise me since it is the same situation for adults with rheumatoid arthritis.

Remicade treatment allowed for the reduction in the use of simultaneous arthritis medications over time in 40% of patients. In fact, in many instances, patients were able to fully withdraw from other medications to the use of Remicade alone. This included tapering completely off of steroids (such as prednisone) and methotrexate.

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: I have been lowering doses of methotrexate and weaning off of steroids in my patients that have stable disease.

Remicade was reported as safe in 2 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who also had chronic hepatitis C.

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: I have treated patients with both conditions, but not yet with Remicade. This is may be a reasonable option for certain patients.

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