Combination therapy in rheumatoid arthritis: updated systematic review

Br J Rheumatol. 1998 Jun;37(6):612-9. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/37.6.612.


In a second update of a systematic review, many new developments in the combined drug treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are highlighted. In early RA patients, step-down bridge therapy that includes corticosteroids leads to much enhanced efficacy at acceptable or low toxicity. The effects on joint damage may be persistent, but the symptomatic effects are probably dependent on continued corticosteroid dosing. In late patients, cyclosporin improves a suboptimal clinical response to methotrexate, and the triple combination of methotrexate, sulphasalazine and hydroxychloroquine appears to be clinically better than the components. Other combinations are either untested, tested at low sample size, or show negative interaction. In view of the low volume of evidence, most studies need confirmation by replication.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents