Objective: To investigate the pattern of use of infliximab with an emphasis on treatment escalation and the durability of infliximab use in the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in an academic setting.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of pharmacy and medical records of 183 patients with RA who received at least 1 infliximab infusion at the infusion centers of the Brigham and Women's Hospital. Treatment escalation was defined as an increase in the dosage of infliximab to >3 mg/kg and/or a decrease in the dosing interval to <7 weeks between infusions.
Results: A total of 183 patients with RA received infliximab infusions for a mean +/- SD duration of 58.2 +/- 56.6 weeks. Infliximab was discontinued in 48% of the patients during the first year of therapy and in 67% of the patients overall. A total of 126 patients had a treatment escalation, including 25 patients with a dose increase, 35 patients with a decrease in the interval, and 66 patients with both. Infliximab treatment was associated with a decrease in corticosteroid and methotrexate doses. Patients who had a treatment escalation were more likely to continue infliximab infusions compared with patients without a treatment escalation (odds ratio 2.0, 95% confidence interval 1.0-4.1).
Conclusion: The use of infliximab may be an effective treatment for RA; however, a substantial number of patients will discontinue its use. Treatment escalation is commonly used in the management of RA with infliximab and is associated with longer duration of infliximab use.