Treatment choices of paediatric rheumatologists for juvenile idiopathic arthritis: etanercept or adalimumab?

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Sep;52(9):1674-9. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ket170. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Objectives: To evaluate differences in baseline characteristics between etanercept- and adalimumab-treated JIA patients and to reveal factors that influence the choice between these TNF inhibitors, which are considered equally effective in the recent ACR recommendations for JIA treatment.

Methods: Biologic-naïve JIA patients with active arthritis who started treatment with adalimumab or etanercept between March 2008 and December 2011 were selected from the Dutch Arthritis and Biologicals in Children register. Baseline characteristics were compared. Focus group interviews with paediatric rheumatologists were performed to evaluate factors determining treatment choices.

Results: A total of 193 patients started treatment with etanercept and 21 with adalimumab. Adalimumab-treated patients had longer disease duration prior to the start of biologics (median 5.7 vs 2.0 years) and more often a history of uveitis (71% vs 4%). Etanercept-treated patients had more disability at baseline (median Childhood Health Assessment Questionnaire score 1.1 vs 0.4) and more active arthritis (median number of active joints 6 vs 4). The presence of uveitis was the most important factor directing the choice towards adalimumab. Factors specific for the paediatric population-such as painful adalimumab injections-as well as the physician's familiarity with the drug accounted for the preference for etanercept.

Conclusion: Although the two TNF inhibitors are considered equally effective, in daily practice etanercept is most often prescribed; adalimumab is mainly preferred when uveitis is present. In choosing the most suitable biologic treatment, paediatric rheumatologists take into account drug and patient factors, considering newly published data and cautiously implementing this into daily care.

Keywords: TNF-α inhibitors; decision making; juvenile idiopathic arthritis; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adalimumab
  • Adolescent
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Decision Making*
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Etanercept
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Registries
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Adalimumab
  • Etanercept