Sustained biologic-free and drug-free remission in rheumatoid arthritis, where are we now?

Arthritis Res Ther. 2015 Aug 3;17(1):181. doi: 10.1186/s13075-015-0707-1.


The advent of new medications and new treatment strategies for rheumatoid arthritis has made it possible to achieve remission in more patients than before. Furthermore, recent clinical trials and register studies suggest that some patients who initially required aggressive therapy may achieve biologic-free remission or even the ultimate goal of therapy, drug-free remission, resembling recovery. Here, we present a discursive review of the most important studies addressing these issues. Based on the overall results, it remains unclear if achieving biologic-free and drug-free remissions are primarily due to the natural course of the disease or to the early therapeutic intervention according to the 'window of opportunity' hypothesis. Although medication-free remission is only achievable in a small subset of patients, characterizing this patient cohort may provide important information about beneficial prognostic factors and the underlying mechanisms. In summary, in a subset of patients biologic-free and even drug-free remission can be achieved; pursuing these possibilities in practice may decrease the risk for long-term side effects and attenuate the economic burden of the disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology
  • Biological Products / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Remission Induction / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biological Products