J Clin Outcomes Manage
Pharmacologic management of rheumatoid arthritis
Garces M, Lozada CJ
Program Audience: Primary care physicians. Educational Needs Addressed: Despite advances in therapy, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) still results in significant morbidity, mortality, and disability. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs such as methotrexate have improved the long-term prognosis of RA and its symptoms. It is important to offer these treatments to patients early in order to prevent joint destruction. New therapeutic approaches, particularly combination therapy that includes a tumor necrosis factor blocker, have been demonstrated in controlled clinical trials to be superior to previously available treatments for RA. It is expected that the benefits seen with these agents in the controlled trial setting will continue to translate into improved outcomes over the long term, not only clinically but also radiologically and in terms of quality of life, without a concomitant increase in adverse events. This should result in indirect cost savings and help offset some of the increased direct costs associated with the use of biologic therapies. Educational Objectives: 1. Recognize that RA is a clinical diagnosis and know the classification criteria 2. Describe the early joint destruction in RA and the need for early treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) 3. Describe the agents used in treatment of RA, including DMARD monotherapy and combination therapy 4. Recall the toxicities and monitoring of DMARDs
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