Objective: This study aims to provide a description of real life treatment patterns of biologic anti-TNF in 23 Italian Rheumatology centers.
Methods: This was an observational, multicenter, retrospective study. Patients >18 years of age, diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and treated with the first biologic anti-TNF agent between the 1st July 2002 to the 31st March 2004 were included. Total follow-up was 36 months.
Results: In total, 248 patients were first treated with infliximab, 259 with etanercept and 196 with adalimumab. First course of therapy with infliximab was associated with lower cumulative drug survival than the other two agents. At 36 months, 74.7% of patients on etanercept, 72.0% of those on adalimumab and 57.7% of subjects receiving infliximab were still on therapy. In total, 149 patients switched to a second anti-TNF agent. At 24 months of the second line treatment, 75%, 22%, and 54% of infliximab, etanercept and adalimumab recipients, respectively, had discontinued their second anti-TNF.
Conclusions: Anti-TNF agents may be associated to a rather high incidence of discontinuation and dose adjustments over a 36-month period, with a possible effect on healthcare expense. In particular, infliximab was associated with a higher incidence of discontinuations compared with etanercept and adalimumab.