Infliximab for the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Infliximab for the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Monica Preboth

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved infliximab (Remicade), in combination with methotrexate, to improve physical function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The combination also inhibits the progression of structural damage and reduces the signs and symptoms in patients with moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis who have not responded to treatment with methotrexate alone.

The manufacturer of infliximab reports that more than 2 million persons in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis. This disease can interfere with even the simplest of daily activities, such as getting out of bed, bathing, buttoning a shirt, and walking up stairs. According to guidelines for the management of rheumatoid arthritis from the American College of Rheumatology, the ultimate goal of therapy is to stop progression of the disease and enable patients to return to normal activity.

In clinical trials, patients who used infliximab with methotrexate had significant improvement in symptoms compared with patients taking methotrexate alone. The improvement was evident after 54 weeks of treatment and was sustained through 102 weeks.

Patients who have been exposed to tuberculosis should be tested before taking infliximab. Patients with infections, multiple sclerosis, or exposure to histoplasmosis should also be identified before using infliximab. Other side effects of infliximab therapy include hives, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, upper respiratory infections, headache, cough, sinusitis, or rash.

More information is available online at www.remicade.com or by calling the manufacturer at 800-683-7401.

COPYRIGHT 2002 American Academy of Family Physicians

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group