WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 -- Early aggressive treatment with a combination of drugs can drive rheumatoid arthritis into drug-free remission in some patients, Dutch researchers said here.
"Hit them early and hit them hard," advised Cornelia Allaart, M.D., of Leiden University Medical Center.
Given the right combination of drugs in initial therapy, about one in eight patients appears to be able to stop the medications entirely within three years, Dr. Allaart reported at the American College of Rheumatology meeting.
The finding comes from the long-running BeSt study, whose name comes from the Dutch words for treatment strategies. In the study, 508 patients were randomized to one of four treatment paradigms -- sequential monotherapy with standard drugs, monotherapy escalating to combination treatment in the event of failure, initial combination therapy using prednisone and another medication, or initial combination therapy with Remicade (infliximab) and methotrexate.