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

Ann Rheum Dis. 2006 Mar;65(3):316-20. doi: 10.1136/ard.2005.040758. Epub 2005 Aug 11.


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 > or =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.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Selection
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha