First update of the international ASAS consensus statement for the use of anti-TNF agents in patients with ankylosing spondylitis

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Objective:To update the international recommendations for use of anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) agents in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.Methods:The published recommendations on anti-TNF treatment in ankylosing spondylitis formed the basis of the update. A questionnaire was sent to the ASAS (assessment in ankylosing spondylitis) members before the final decisions were agreed upon at an international meeting of the ASAS working group.Results:Only minor changes to the original consensus statement were required. For the initiation of anti-TNF treatment, there should be: a diagnosis of definitive ankylosing spondylitis (normally based on modified New York criteria); active disease for at least four weeks, as defined by a sustained Bath ankylosing spondylitis disease activity index (BASDAI) of ≥4 on a 0–10 scale and expert opinion based on clinical findings; refractory disease, defined by failure of at least two non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during a three month period, failure of intra-articular steroids (if indicated), and failure of sulfasalazine in patients with predominantly peripheral arthritis; and application of the usual precautions and contraindications for biological treatment. For monitoring anti-TNF treatment: both the ASAS core set for clinical practice and the BASDAI should be followed after the initiation of treatment. Discontinuation of anti-TNF treatment in non-responders should be considered after 6–12 weeks. Response is defined by improvement of at least 50%or 2 units (on a 0–10 scale) of the BASDAI.Conclusions:This updated consensus statement is recommended in guiding clinical practice and as a basis for developing national guidelines. Evaluation and regular update of this consensus statement is subject to further research by the ASAS group.

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