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Impact of Adverse Events Associated With Medications in the Treatment and Prevention of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Ruth Costello
    Affiliations
    Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
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  • Trixy David
    Affiliations
    Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
    Search for articles by this author
  • Meghna Jani
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Meghna Jani, Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, Division of Musculoskeletal and Dermatological Sciences, Room 2.903, Stopford Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PT.
    Affiliations
    Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom

    Department of Rheumatology, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Salford, United Kingdom
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      Abstract

      Purpose

      Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over the last few decades have transformed the future outlook of the disease. Although patients with clinically apparent RA have a number of therapeutic options, all are associated with the risk of adverse events (AEs). Such therapeutics, facilitated by the identification of novel biomarkers and environmental and genetic factors to predict RA, may allow early detection, prompt treatment, and prevention before the future development of clinically apparent disease. Before choosing such treatments to make informed decisions in this context, however, accurate quantification of benefits and harms of such treatments is vital for participants without symptoms. This review summarizes the AEs reported in trials in preclinical or very early RA, the frequency and risk of primary AEs of concern associated with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (conventional, biologic, and targeted), glucocorticoids, and analgesia in clinically apparent RA. Also summarized is the evidence to date to support the quantification of benefit and harms incorporating patient preferences.

      Methods

      This analysis is a narrative review in which individual searches were performed in PubMed and EMBASE for each drug and topic outlined in the review.

      Findings

      Current therapies in RA can result in a considerable burden of AEs (serious and nonserious) depending on the individual's baseline risk. The absolute risk of serious AEs to treatments reported in individuals at risk of RA, undifferentiated, or very early inflammatory arthritis trials was low; however, nonserious AEs were not consistently reported. If such therapies prove effective at preventing the onset of RA in high-risk patients, incorporating patient preferences as well as robust quantification of benefits and harms to inform decisions is imperative. Patients' perceptions about treatment in this context may be risk averse or benefit driven. The risk of AEs that may not reverse after drug cessation, such as serious infection and malignancy, seem to be important AEs in such decision-making.

      Implications

      The impact of AEs in response to potentially preventative treatment is an important consideration for individuals at high risk of developing RA with minimal symptoms. Robust quantification of treatment effect given baseline risk versus the risks of developing all AEs (including those that may affect quality of life), while incorporating participants’ views, will be necessary for future informed decision-making.

      Key Words

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