Long-term treatment response in rheumatoid arthritis patients starting adalimumab or etanercept with or without concomitant methotrexate

Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2017 May-Jun;35(3):431-437. Epub 2017 Jan 5.


Objectives: To observe long-term clinical response and drug survival in a prospective two-year cohort study in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients starting adalimumab or etanercept treatment, with or without methotrexate (MTX), after failure of conventional DMARD therapy, including MTX.

Methods: Disease activity score of 28 joints (DAS28) and Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) were collected of 873 consecutive RA patients, treated with adalimumab or etanercept, prospectively at baseline, 4, 16, 28, 40, 52, 78 and 104 weeks of biological therapy. Sustained minimal disease activity (MDA), DAS28 <2.6 for at least 24 consecutive weeks, biological discontinuation, ΔHAQ and ΔDAS28 were compared between patients treated with or without concomitant MTX for etanercept and adalimumab separately.

Results: More patients treated with adalimumab and MTX (42%) achieved sustained MDA than patients without MTX (18%). The hazard ratio (HR) was 2.3 [1.4-3.9]. No significant difference was found in etanercept treatment (with MTX 33% vs. 28% without MTX), HR 1.1 [0.8-1.6]. More patients treated without MTX discontinued treatment than patients with MTX co-treatment in adalimumab (HR 2.1 [1.5-3.0]) and etanercept (HR 1.9 [1.0-3.4]). The mean decrease in DAS28 over time was higher for patients treated with MTX in adalimumab (regression coefficient (RC): 0.57, p<0.001), but was not significantly different in etanercept treatment (RC 0.05, p=0.427). No significant differences were found in ΔHAQ.

Conclusions: Treatment discontinuation is lower in patients treated with MTX in both adalimumab and etanercept treatment. However, considering good clinical response, in contrast to etanercept, a synergetic effect of MTX is observed only in adalimumab treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adalimumab / adverse effects
  • Adalimumab / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Biological Products / adverse effects
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Etanercept / adverse effects
  • Etanercept / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / adverse effects
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Remission Induction
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Adalimumab
  • Etanercept
  • Methotrexate