Remodeling the pyramid--a concept whose time has come

J Rheumatol. 1989 May;16(5):565-7.


It is clear that the traditional treatment program, as illustrated by the pyramid, does not suppress inflammation in most patients with RA to an extent sufficient to prevent joint damage. There is no basis for the concept that slow acting drugs are uniquely disease modifying. Disease modification correlates best with control of inflammation. Contrary to popular wisdom, this has been best demonstrated with prednisone. The arbitrary concept of a drug being either antiinflammatory or disease modifying serves no useful purpose and should be dropped. Many medications provide incomplete or temporary suppression of inflammation, presumably by differing mechanisms of action. Based on this rationale, a therapeutic program is proposed, employing a combination of drugs to control inflammation in the critical early stages of RA. With this step-down bridge concept, medications are sequentially withdrawn in contrast to the traditional pyramid, in which they have been sequentially added. Our early experience with patients indicates that toxicity is no greater problem with combined drugs than with the same drugs used individually. Time and comparative observations will be needed to show the optimum combination of drugs and whether the step-down bridge concept will achieve the sought-for and presently unobtained goal of early and sustained control of inflammation, improved quality of life, and prevention of bone and joint damage.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / prevention & control
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Steroids
  • Synovitis / drug therapy


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Steroids