Safety and efficacy of disease-modifying antirheumatic agents in rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2003 Jul;2(4):347-65. doi: 10.1517/14740338.2.4.347.


The definition of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) has changed dramatically over the last decade. Current expectations of efficacy now include amelioration of signs and symptoms of disease activity as well as slowing, if not complete cessation, of disease progression as evidenced by Xray progression and significant improvement of patient function. Rheumatologists assess the safety profile of these agents more critically in an attempt to increase the risk:benefit profile. Traditional agents, such as methotrexate (MTX), sulfasalazine and leflunomide have provided patients with substantial relief of symptoms and some decrease of X-ray progression but have been hampered by the frequent occurrence of significant adverse events (AEs) and inability to maintain benefit for a prolonged period of time. With the increased understanding of the basic mechanism of the disease process, there has been the introduction of four biological disease-modifying agents introduced into clinical practice which have substantially increased the risk:benefit ratio for patients with various rheumatic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Product Surveillance, Postmarketing
  • Risk Assessment


  • Antirheumatic Agents