In France, few economic assessments on the cost of rheumatoid arthritis have been undertaken. Descriptive cost studies were available with different methodological approaches (prospective vs retrospective, economic and/or medical assessment, analytical economic assessment of the cost vs tariff per diagnosis-related group for calculation of hospital costs, based on inpatient and/or outpatient records, focused on diagnosis and/or treatment, and based on real vs theoretical practice) at different times, especially compared with the daily availability of biotherapy or the phase of change of the French Health System financing. Direct medical costs were primarily described. Medicoeconomic assessment should be continued when the disease prognosis is altered by the administration of a new but expensive therapy (i.e. biotherapy) and focused on direct and indirect costs. The ESPOIR and the VERA cohort studies of recent arthritis patients, recently initiated in France, will be useful database contributors. In parallel with the hospitalizations for rheumatoid arthritis extracted from the French national hospital database, a national register is required to follow the administration of biotherapy. As the French Health System is currently changing, some methodological approaches of economic assessment were proposed. Further studies need to be conducted according to guidelines for economic evaluation to allow relevant economic data at country level and for international comparison.