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Impact of using concomitant conventional DMARDs on adherence to biologic DMARD treatment in rheumatoid arthritis: multi-centre, population-based cohort study


Purpose — To evaluate the impact of concomitant use of conventional synthetic DMARDs (csCMARD) on adherence, switching and dose of biologic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARD) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients treated with bDMARDs.

Patients and Methods — This was a population-based cohort study conducted in five provinces of Canada (Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan), and one American database (IBM® MarketScan® Databases). Adult RA patients entered the study after a 3-month initiation period of bDMARDs between 1 January 2007, and 30 March 2014. Concomitant csDMARD exposure was compared to non-csDMARD exposure on the following outcomes: discontinuation of bDMARD therapy, switching of bDMARDs, and percent change in dose of bDMARD compared to initial dose. The effect of the time-varying changes in csDMARD exposure was analyzed using marginal structural models. Dose change was analyzed using linear regression. Results from each participating site were combined using likelihood ratio meta-analysis.

Results — The study population comprised 20,221 new users of bDMARDs: adalimumab (7609), etanercept (9809), abatacept (1024), infliximab (1779). Concomitant use of csDMARD therapy was not significantly associated with reduced discontinuation of bDMARD treatment (hazard ratio 0.90, 95% intrinsic confidence interval 0.79 to 1.02) or reduced switching of bDMARDs (hazard ratio 0.95, 95% intrinsic confidence interval 0.80 to 1.11), but was associated with a small increase in bDMARD dose compared to the mean dose over the first three months of treatment (mean percentage change in dose +0.56% mg/day, 95% intrinsic confidence interval +0.14% to +0.97%).

Conclusion — In this large study of RA patients using bDMARDs in Canada and the United States, we found no clear evidence that patients who received concomitant csDMARD therapy were less likely to discontinue, switch or increase their dose of bDMARD.



Dormuth CR, Fisher A, Hudson M, Austin PC, Ernst P, Bresee L, Chateau D, Tamim H, Paterson JM, Lafrance JP, Taylor-Gjevre RM, Platt RW; Canadian Network For Observational Drug Effect Studies Cnodes Investigators. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2021; 51(6):1291-9. Epub 2021 Aug 19.

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