Purpose of review: The present review will focus on the role of conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in the current management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Recent findings: Over the past several decades, the treatment of RA has been revolutionized, not only by the development of highly effective biologic agents but also through a better understanding of the critical importance of early DMARD treatment with a goal of remission or low disease activity and of how to effectively and safely use conventional DMARDs, either as monotherapy or in combinations.
Summary: Conventional DMARDs have proven efficacy in the management of RA and remain a valid treatment option, either in monotherapy or as a component of combination regimens. Although conventional DMARDs have associated toxicities, these are distinct from those of the biologic DMARDs. In addition, conventional DMARDs are much less expensive than biologic DMARDs, and in many cases can be successful in achieving similar control of disease activity. The goal for all patients should be achieving remission, or at least low disease activity, with the most cost-effective therapy possible.