The impact of anti-tumour necrosis factor therapy for rheumatoid arthritis on the use of other drugs and hospital resources in a pragmatic setting


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Abstract

Background:Anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy has been an important development for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but the impact of its delivery on hospital resources in still emerging.Aims:We audited the effect of starting anti-TNF on the use of other anti-rheumatic therapies and hospital resources in a routine secondary care setting.Methods:A retrospective study of resource use before and after anti-TNF was conducted. Hospital records of 54 RA patients were studied and data taken from the time of commencing anti-TNF to 1 October 2004 and an equal time period prior to commencing anti-TNF. Identical data were collected for 54 controls not on anti-TNF. Relevant figures were extrapolated to per annum rates. Results were analysed using two-factor ANOVAs comparing the pre- versus post-anti-TNF period. Cases on intravenous (IV) versus subcutaneous (SC) anti-TNF were also compared in separate ANOVAs.Results:Mean duration of anti-TNF therapy was 17.04 months (range 3.60–42.36). Mean pre- and 3-months post-anti-TNF Disease Activity Scores (DAS28) were 6.93 and 3.88, respectively. Cases were more likely than controls to be on oral prednisolone pre- and post-anti-TNF. Methylprednisolone requirement, number of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), telephone helpline contacts and duration as an inpatient reduced significantly post-anti-TNF. Day case admissions increased but outpatient appointments decreased only in cases on IV anti-TNF.Conclusions:In a pragmatic setting, anti-TNF therapy led to reduced need for steroid injections and other DMARDs, as well as reductions in use of several hospital resources. Wider replication of these findings will be important for planning delivery.

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