Researchers find arthritis drugs work better in combination

WASHINGTON New research has shown that no one rheumatoid arthritis medication works better than another, although mixing different types of drugs in a combination approach works better than a single treatment, according to Reuters.

A team at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality looked at 11 different drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, an incurable, joint-destroying condition that also weakens the surrounding tissue. They searched clinical trials that enrolled at least 100 people between 1980 and 2007.

“Experts do not agree about the comparative benefits of different combination therapies. Many questions remain about the risks of these agents across a spectrum of adverse events from relatively minor side effects to severe and possible life-threatening problems,” the researchers wrote.

The therapies used in the study included corticosteroids, synthetic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine, leflunomide, methotrexate and sulfasalazine. They also looked at biological anti-rheumatic drugs such as Orencia, Humira, Kineret, Enbrel, Remicade, Rituxan, and MabThera. The drugs generated sales of nearly $10 billion in 2006.

“Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful, degenerative disease that affects people of all ages and can profoundly impact quality of life,” AHRQ director Carolyn Clancy said in a statement.

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