Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Drug Combo Improves Remission of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Those on methotrexate-etanercept therapy 3 times less likely to have to stop working"

WEDNESDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis benefited from combining the drugs methotrexate and Enbrel (etanercept), new research found.

The combination improved both remission and radiographic non-progression rates within one year compared with the standard treatment of methotrexate alone.

Patients on this regimen were also more likely to stay employed, according to a study in the current issue of The Lancet. The study was funded by Wyeth, the maker of Enbrel.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, some 1.3 million Americans live with rheumatoid arthritis, thought to be an autoimmune disease. The disease involves inflammation of the joints which can lead to both pain and disability. There is no cure for the condition, although several drugs can provide relief.

More than 500 outpatients who had not previously tried methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug, were randomly selected to receive either methotrexate alone (with the dosage increasing regularly) or methotrexate plus 50 milligrams a week of Enbrel.

Half of the patients receiving both drugs went into remission, while 94 percent had a "good/moderate" response. Only 28 percent on methotrexate alone went into remission, according to the study.

And, those on the combination therapy were three times less likely to have to stop working, compared with those taking methotrexate alone, said the study authors, from the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust in the United Kingdom.

Almost a quarter of patients who were working at the beginning of the trial and who were in the single-drug arm had to stop work by the end of one year, compared with only about 10 percent in the combination group.

Here is yet another story touting Methotrexate. I think it is very interesting that none of the recent articles I have posted have mentioned the recent finding that Methotrexate has been implicated in causing (significantly) increased risks of Melanoma.

Believe me, I know that all of these drugs come with risks. I just find it really interesting that, that finding seems to fall below the radar.

It is also interesting that the sponsor of the study is the pharmaceutical company that makes Enbrel. I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised.


  1. Methotrexate works well for me. I am on the lowest possible dose so I hope that decreases my risk of side effects. All of the drugs for lupus are toxic. I guess we just have to pick our poison. I'm willing to take the chance because I have to be able to function as a single mom. But, because of the information you brought forward, I am considering a check with the dermatologist. Better to be safe than sorry...

  2. I agree. I've often talked a lot about there being a lot of balancing when it comes to medications, both in terms of finding the right ones for your illness, and in terms of the ones in which the side effects aren't too much to handle.