Addition of infliximab compared with addition of sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine to methotrexate in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (Swefot trial): 1-year results of a randomised trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background New treatment strategies for early rheumatoid arthritis are evolving rapidly. We aimed to compare addition of conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine) with addition of a tumour necrosis factor antagonist (infliximab) to methotrexate in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis. Methods We undertook a randomised trial in 15 rheumatology units in Sweden. We enrolled patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (symptom duration <1 year) and administered methotrexate (up to 20 mg per week). After 3-4 months, those who had not achieved low disease activity but who could tolerate methotrexate were randomly allocated by computer addition of either sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine or infliximab. Primary outcome was achievement of a good response according to European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria at 12 months. Patients were followed up to 24 months; here, we present findings at 12 months. Analysis was by intention to treat and we used non-responder imputation. The Swefot (Swedish Pharmacotherapy) study is registered in the WHO database at the Karolinska University Hospital, number CT20080004. Findings 487 patients were initially enrolled. Of 258 who had not achieved low disease activity with methotrexate, 130 were allocated sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine and 128 were assigned infliximab. 32 of 130 (25%) patients allocated sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine achieved the primary outcome compared with 50 of 128 (39%) assigned infliximab (risk ratio 1.59 [95% CI 1.10-2.30], p=0.0160). Adverse events were balanced fairly well between the two groups and accorded with known adverse events of the drugs used. No deaths occurred in either group. Interpretation In patients with early rheumatoid arthritis in whom methotrexate treatment failed, addition of a tumour necrosis factor antagonist to methotrexate monotherapy is clinically superior to addition of conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Funding Swedish Rheumatism Association, Schering-Plough.

Details

Authors
  • R. F. van Vollenhoven
  • S. Ernestam
  • Pierre Geborek
  • Ingemar Petersson
  • L. Coster
  • E. Waltbrand
  • A. Zickert
  • J. Theander
  • A. Thorner
  • H. Hellstrom
  • A. Teleman
  • C. Dackhammar
  • F. Akre
  • K Forslind
  • L. Ljung
  • R. Oding
  • A. Chatzidionysiou
  • M. Wornert
  • J. Bratt
Organisations
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Rheumatology and Autoimmunity
  • Orthopedics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-466
JournalThe Lancet
Volume374
Issue number9688
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes