ACR Updates Guidelines for Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis

Pharmacy Practice News—November 30, 2008

New guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology for the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis urge early and aggressive use of nonbiologic and biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs—known as DMARDs—to muzzle the disease.

The ACR recommendations, which include algorithms to help clinicians navigate the many available treatment options, update guidelines first issued in 2002. That document did not include information on biologic drugs, first approved in 1998 and not widely prescribed until about four years later.

Michael Lockshin, M.D., director of the Barbara Volcker Center for Women and Rheumatic Disease at Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City, said the bottom line of the new guidelines is this: "Early use of aggressive therapy gets you better results than delaying."

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