Researchers discovered that one can now treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with inexpensive generic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These medications provide same relief like expensive biologic therapies. Scientists have even compared DMARDs with more expensive therapies that patients opt for. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, biologic therapies can be 20 times more expensive than the oral pill DMARDs.
Ted Mikuls, MD, at Nebraska Western Iowa Veterans Affairs Health Center and a co-author of the study has said that people spend millions and millions on health care, and this is one area that would suggest that a less expensive option may be as effective as a more expensive option.
To prove this study, researchers conducted a double-blind study with 353 RA patients. For 48 weeks, one batch received a combination of DMARDS, such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine. The second batch received a biologic called etanercept, which is more commonly known as Enbrel.
They observed that there was no difference between the biologic treatment and the DMARD, even after taking into account the number of tender joints, swollen joints; blood measure of inflammation and pain evaluation.
Barbara Carley, a chapter relations coordinator for the Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation of Florida said whether one takes biologics or DMARDs, the effect is more or less same, but paying for RA therapy can be a financial hardship.
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