Efficacy and Safety of Upadacitinib Monotherapy in Methotrexate-Naive Patients With Moderately-to-Severely Active Rheumatoid Arthritis (SELECT-EARLY): A Multicenter, Multi-Country, Randomized, Double-Blind, Active Comparator-Controlled Trial

Arthritis Rheumatol. 2020 Oct;72(10):1607-1620. doi: 10.1002/art.41384. Epub 2020 Sep 8.


Objective: The SELECT-EARLY trial was undertaken to study the effect of upadacitinib, an oral, reversible Janus kinase 1-selective inhibitor, as monotherapy in patients with predominantly early rheumatoid arthritis who were naive for or had limited exposure to methotrexate (MTX).

Methods: Patients (n = 947) were randomized 1:1:1 to receive once-daily doses of upadacitinib 15 mg or 30 mg or weekly MTX (7.5-20 mg/week) for 24 weeks. The primary end points were the proportion of patients who met the American College of Rheumatology 50% (ACR50) improvement criteria at week 12, and the proportion in whom a Disease Activity Score in 28 joints using the C-reactive protein level (DAS28-CRP) of <2.6 was achieved at week 24. Data are presented through week 24.

Results: At baseline, the median disease duration was 0.5 years (range 0-44 years). A total of 840 patients (89%) completed 24 weeks of treatment. The study met both primary end points for upadacitinib 15 mg and 30 mg versus MTX (ACR50 was achieved at week 12 in 52% and 56% of patients, respectively, versus 28% [P < 0.001], and DAS28-CRP <2.6 was achieved at week 24 in 48% and 50% of patients, respectively, versus 19% [P < 0.001]). Statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in multiple patient-reported outcomes (PROs) were recorded for both upadacitinib doses versus MTX. Overall, 88% of patients receiving upadacitinib 15 mg and 89% of patients receiving 30 mg, respectively, had no radiographic progression (modified total Sharp score ≤0) compared to 78% of those receiving MTX (P < 0.01). Through week 24, the frequency of treatment-emergent adverse events was similar between the MTX arm (65%) and upadacitinib 15 mg arm (64%), but was slightly higher in the upadacitinib 30 mg arm (71%). Six deaths were reported (2 in the upadacitinib 15 mg arm, 3 in the upadacitinib 30 mg arm, and 1 in the MTX arm).

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that patients receiving either dose of upadacitinib monotherapy experienced significant improvements in clinical, radiographic, and PROs compared to patients receiving MTX.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02706873.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Disease Progression
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring / adverse effects
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring
  • upadacitinib

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02706873