Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug usage, prescribing patterns and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis patients in community-based practice

Intern Med J. 2011 Jun;41(6):450-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2010.02240.x. Epub 2010 Apr 12.


Aims: Our aim was to examine the spectrum of disease activity and usage of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients seen over a period of 12 months in community-based rheumatology practice.

Methods: Data were prospectively collected on 1059 consecutive RA patients who attended two private, community-based rheumatology clinics from 1 May 2007 to 1 May 2008. Information on patient demographics, medication history and disease activity was collected. Life table graphs were developed to track medication retention over time. Statistical significance was determined by log-rank tests.

Results: One thousand and fifty-nine patients with RA were entered into the database over a 12-month period. Eight hundred and twenty-six patients (85%) were treated with single or combination conventional DMARD compared with 159 patients (15%) on a biologic DMARD either alone or in combination. Methotrexate monotherapy was the most commonly prescribed DMARD, used in 41% of patients studied. Almost half (47%) were on combination DMARD therapy. Methotrexate and tumour necrosis factor inhibitors had the highest retention rate over 12 and 30 months since first prescription. A large proportion of patients (47%) had moderate disease activity.

Conclusion: Rates of biologic DMARD usage were similar to other studies and the predominance of methotrexate use was also in keeping with current recommendations for management of RA. There appears to be a significant unmet need for improved disease control among RA patients with moderate disease activity, which requires further investigation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Databases, Factual / trends
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Private Practice / trends*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Young Adult


  • Antirheumatic Agents