Benefit of anti-TNF therapy in rheumatoid arthritis patients with moderate disease activity

Kimme L. Hyrich, Chris Deighton, Kath D. Watson, Deborah P M Symmons, Mark Lunt, Nicola Maiden, Tom Price, Neil Hopkinson, Sheila O'Reilly, Lesley Hordon, Ian Griffiths, Duncan Porter, Hilary Capell, Andy Hassell, Romela Benitha, Ernest Choy, David Walsh, Paul Emery, Susan Knight, Ian BruceAllister Taggart, David Scott, Paul Thompson, Fiona McCrae, Rhian Goodfellow, George Kitas, Ronald Jubb, Rikki Abernethy, Shane Clarke, Sandra Green, Paul Sanders, Amanda Coulson, Bev Harrison, Marwan Bukhari, Peter Klimiuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. Anti-TNF therapy has improved outcomes for patients with highly active RA. Less is known about its effectiveness in patients with lower disease activity. The aim of this analysis is to compare the response to anti-TNF therapy between RA patients with high (DAS28 > 5.1) and moderate (DAS28 > 3.2-5.1) disease activity. Methods. A total of 4687 anti-TNF and 344 DMARD patients with high disease activity despite treatment with two standard DMARDs (including MTX) and 224 anti-TNF- and 300 DMARD-treated patients with moderate disease activity were selected from the British Society For Rheumatology Biologics Register. Mean change in HAQ over the first 12 months of enrolment was compared first between anti-TNF-treated and untreated patients in each DAS28 group, and then between anti-TNF-treated patients in the moderate and high DAS28 groups, using doubly robust estimates, adjusting for age, gender, disease duration, baseline HAQ and DAS28 score, number of previous DMARDs and steroid use. Results. Compared with anti-TNF-untreated patients within each DAS group, treated patients were younger, had higher DAS28 and HAQ and had failed a higher number of previous DMARDs. The mean adjusted change in HAQ over 12 months was similar in anti-TNF-treated patients with moderate and high disease activity at baseline: moderate -0.26 (95% CI -0.35, -0.16), high -0.28 (95% CI -0.34, -0.23) and mean difference -0.03 (95% CI -0.14, 0.08). Conclusions. Improvement in HAQ score 12 months after start of anti-TNF therapy was not dependent on baseline DAS28 scores, suggesting that substantial benefits may also be gained by treating those with moderately active disease despite standard DMARD therapy. © The Author(s) 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Society for Rheumatology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1327
Number of pages4
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Anti-TNF
  • Disability
  • Disease activity
  • DMARDs
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Treatment outcome


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