Rheumatoid arthritis: what is refractory disease and how to manage it?

Autoimmun Rev. 2011 Sep;10(11):707-13. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2011.04.023. Epub 2011 May 5.


Despite the enthusiastic progresses in the field of rheumatoid arthritis pharmacotherapy the presence of prognostic factors associated with an unfavorable outcome and the inappropriate and/or delayed initiation of DMARDs can diminish the likelihood of achieving remission and increase the probability of refractoriness to treatment. During the last decade we have experience exciting developments regarding the approval of new treatment options but few patients are reaching sustained remission and refractory patients continue to be a problem. Thus, it is critical to understand how clinicians can decrease the risk of refractoriness by close monitoring disease activity, using well defined and accepted composite measures, and by early and optimized use of DMARDs, including biologics. The goal of this review paper is to offer an evidence based roadmap to prevent and to deal with refractory RA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Resistance
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence
  • Risk


  • Antirheumatic Agents