Termination of slow acting antirheumatic therapy in rheumatoid arthritis: a 14-year prospective evaluation of 1017 consecutive starts

J Rheumatol. 1990 Aug;17(8):994-1002.


During a continuous 14-year observation period we prospectively recorded clinical data on all patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) attending an outpatient clinic. Six hundred seventy-one patients received 1017 new administrations of slow acting antirheumatic drugs during more than 2000 patient years of observation. The median time to discontinuation for intramuscular gold, auranofin, hydroxychloroquine or penicillamine was 2 years or less, but was 4.25 years for methotrexate (p = 0.008 vs all other drugs combined). Adverse reactions were a more common reason for discontinuation than efficacy, and both were less common in patients taking methotrexate (p less than 0.01). Neither disease duration, disease severity, or demographic factors were useful predictors of discontinuation. Since controlled clinical trials do not provide long-term outcome assessments, measurement of time to termination is a practical tool to estimate drug inefficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Gold Sodium Thiomalate / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Penicillamine / therapeutic use
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Gold Sodium Thiomalate
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Penicillamine
  • Methotrexate