August 1st 2005
ABSTRACT: Early treatment with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)--alone or in combination-- can prevent joint damage and minimize disability. Until recently, the DMARDs used predominantly in patients with rheumatoid arthritis had been methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and hydoxychloroquine. Older DMARDs such as gold, d-penicillamine, and azathioprine have fallen out of favor because of their long- term toxicities or modest benefit. Six newer DMARDs--leflunomide, etanercept, infliximab, adalimumab, rituximab, and anakinra--have greatly expanded the current treatment options.