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Dose tapering and discontinuation of biological therapy in rheumatoid arthritis patients in routine care - 2-year outcomes and predictors

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Objectives: A cohort of routine care RA patients in sustained remission had biological DMARD (bDMARDs) tapered according to a treatment guideline. We studied: the proportion of patients whose bDMARD could be successfully tapered or discontinued; unwanted consequences of tapering/discontinuation; and potential baseline predictors of successful tapering and discontinuation.

Methods: One-hundred-and-forty-three patients (91% receiving TNF inhibitor and 9% a non-TNF inhibitor) with sustained disease activity score (DAS28-CRP)⩽2.6 and no radiographic progression the previous year were included. bDMARD was reduced to two-thirds of standard dose at baseline, half after 16 weeks, and discontinued after 32 weeks. Patients who flared (defined as either DAS28-CRP ⩾ 2.6 and ΔDAS28-CRP ⩾ 1.2 from baseline, or erosive progression on X-ray and/or MRI) stopped tapering and were escalated to the previous dose level.

Results: One-hundred-and-forty-one patients completed 2-year follow-up. At 2 years, 87 patients (62%) had successfully tapered bDMARDs, with 26 (18%) receiving two-thirds of standard dose, 39 (28%) half dose and 22 (16%) having discontinued; and 54 patients (38%) were receiving full dose. ΔDAS28-CRP0-2yrs was 0.1((-0.2)-0.4) (median (interquartile range)) and mean ΔTotal-Sharp-Score0-2yrs was 0.01(1.15)(mean(s.d.)). Radiographic progression was observed in nine patients (7%). Successful tapering was independently predicted by: ⩽1 previous bDMARD, male gender, low baseline MRI combined inflammation score or combined damage score. Negative IgM-RF predicted successful discontinuation.

Conclusion: By implementing a clinical guideline, 62% of RA patients in sustained remission in routine care were successfully tapered, including 16% successfully discontinued at 2 years. Radiographic progression was rare. Maximum one bDMARDs, male gender, and low baseline MRI combined inflammation and combined damage scores were independent predictors for successful tapering.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRheumatology (Oxford, England)
Volume58
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)110-119
ISSN1462-0324
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 55215264