Objective: To evaluate the impact of infliximab therapy on the employment status of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Methotrexate (MTX)-naive patients with active early RA were randomly allocated to receive MTX plus placebo or MTX plus infliximab (3 mg/kg or 6 mg/kg) at weeks 0, 2, and 6 and then every 8 weeks through week 46. Data for patients younger than age 65 years were included in the analyses. A patient was categorized as employable if he or she was employed or felt well enough to work if a job were available.
Results: The change in actual employment was not significantly different between patients receiving MTX plus infliximab and those receiving MTX plus placebo (0.5% versus 1.3%; P > 0.5). However, the proportion of patients whose status changed from employable at baseline to unemployable at week 54 was smaller in the group receiving MTX plus infliximab compared with that in the group receiving MTX alone (8% versus 14%; P = 0.05). Patients who were treated with infliximab plus MTX had a significantly greater likelihood of improvement rather than deterioration in employability (odds ratio 2.4; P < 0.001); this likelihood was not significantly greater in patients receiving MTX alone. The proportion of employed patients who lost workdays during the trial was smaller in the MTX plus infliximab group than in the MTX-alone group (P = 0.010).
Conclusion: The actual employment rates among patients in the 2 treatment groups were not different. However, patients with early RA who were treated with MTX plus infliximab had a higher probability of maintaining their employability compared with those who were treated with MTX alone.