Recommendations of the French Society for Rheumatology for managing rheumatoid arthritis

Joint Bone Spine. 2014 Jul;81(4):287-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2014.05.002. Epub 2014 Jun 27.


Introduction: This article reports the latest recommendations of the French Society for Rheumatology (SFR) regarding the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: New recommendations were developed by hospital- and community-based rheumatologists having extensive experience with RA and a patient self-help organization representative. They rest on the recently issued EULAR recommendations and a literature review.

Results: Points emphasized in the 15 recommendations include the need to share treatment decisions between the rheumatologist and the patient, the acquisition by patients of self-management skills, remission or minimal disease activity as the treatment target, the need for initiating disease-modifying drugs as early as possible, and the usefulness of regular disease activity assessments to allow rapid treatment adjustments if needed (i.e., tight disease control). First-line methotrexate monotherapy is recommended, with concomitant short-term glucocorticoid therapy if indicated by the risk/benefit ratio. Patients who fail this approach (no response after 3 months or target not achieved after 6 months) can be considered for another synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD: leflunomide or sulfasalazine), combined synthetic DMARD therapy, or methotrexate plus a biologic, depending on the prognostic factors and patient characteristics. If the first biologic fails, switching to a second biologic is recommended. In the event of a sustained remission, cautious dosage reduction of the biological and/after synthetic DMARDs is in order.

Conclusion: These recommendations are designed to improve the management of patients with RA.

Keywords: Biologics; Glucocorticoid therapy; Recommendations; Rheumatoid arthritis; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Humans