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BMJ Publishing Group, RMD Open, 2(7), p. e001615, 2021

DOI: 10.1136/rmdopen-2021-001615



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Short-term glucocorticoids reduce risk of chronic NSAID and analgesic use in early methotrexate-treated rheumatoid arthritis patients with favourable prognosis: subanalysis of the CareRA randomised controlled trial

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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ObjectiveTo explore non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and analgesic use in early rheumatoid arthritis (eRA) patients with a favourable risk profile initiating methotrexate (MTX) with or without glucocorticoid (GC) bridging.MethodsPatients with eRA (≤1 year) and favourable risk profile (no erosions, negative rheumatoid factor and anticitrullinated protein antibodiesor low disease activity) in the 2-year CareRA trial were randomised to MTX 15 mg with a step-down GC scheme (COBRA Slim), or MTX without oral GCs, Tight-Step-Up (TSU). Used analgesics were recorded, including frequency, start/end date and indication. Chronic intake (≥90 consecutive days in trial) of NSAIDs, acetaminophen, opioids including tramadol and antidepressants for the indication of musculoskeletal (MSK) pain was considered. Treatments were compared using χ2 and analysis of variance with Holm’s correction for multiple testing.ResultsIn total, 43 patients were randomised to COBRA Slim and 47 to TSU. At study inclusion, 33/43 (77%) of patients in the COBRA Slim and 32/47 (68%) in the TSU arm had been using analgesics (p=0.5). During the trial, 67 NSAID and analgesics were used for MSK pain in 26/43 (60%) COBRA Slim patients of which 9/43 (21%) daily chronically (DC), while 107 NSAID and analgesics were used in 43/47 (92%) TSU patients, of which 25/47 (53%) DC. The total number of patients on NSAID and analgesics at any time during the study (p<0.01) and chronically (p=0.01) was significantly different between treatment arms. Number of patients on DC NSAIDs was also significantly different (p<0.01) between COBRA Slim 6/43 (14%) and TSU 19/47 (40%).ConclusionIn eRA patients considered to have a favourable prognosis, initial oral GC bridging resulted in lower chronic NSAID and analgesic use.Trial registration numberNCT01172639.