During the past decade, many important changes have occurred in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, perhaps the most important of which has been the realization that early diagnosis and early treatment are critical. This has challenged our health-care systems to make sure that patients with early arthritis have access to the appropriate physicians. Additionally, the last decade has also seen many new treatment options become available for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. These new options have included the use of old drugs more effectively; the use of combinations of two or more disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs; new evidence to support the use of steroids; the resurrection of tetracyclines; the introduction of leflunomide; and, finally, the tumour necrosis factor inhibitors etanercept and infliximab. The availability of all these new options is clearly excellent news for patients with RA and their physicians. It is hoped that we will, in the next few years, better understand how most effectively to utilize these treatment options for the optimal care of our patients.
Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.