Objectives: The aim of this study is to compare clinical outcomes, incidence of flares and administered drug reduction between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients under TNF inhibitors (TNFi) tapering strategy and RA patients on standard regimen.
Methods: Two groups of RA patients on TNFi with DAS28<3.2 were compared: the tapering group (TG: 67 pts from Spain) and the control group with standard therapy regimen (CG: 77 pts from the Netherlands). DAS28 was measured at different time points: visit 0 (prior starting TNFi), visit 1 (prior to start tapering in TG and with DAS28<3.2 in TG and CG), visit 2 (6 months after visit 1), visit 3 (1 year after visit 1), visit 4 (the last visit available after visit 1) and visit-flare (visit with the worst flare between visit 1 and visit 4).
Results: Despite the reduction of administered drug at visit 4 in the TG (interval elongation of 32.8% in infliximab, 52.9% in adalimumab and 52.6% in etanercept), the DAS28 remained similar between groups at the end of the study (DAS28: 2.7±0.9 in TG vs. 2.5±1 in CG, p=0.1). No differences were seen in the number of patients with flares [26/67 (38.9%) in the TG vs. 30/77 (39%) in the CG, p=0.324] and only nineteen out of 136 patients (14%) had anti-drug antibodies at the end of the study.
Conclusions: The tapering strategy of TNFi in RA patients result in a reduction of the drug administered, while the disease control is not worse than patients on the standard regimen.