In RA, When to Stop Anti-TNF Therapy

Kevin D. Deane, MD, PhD


November 17, 2016

Stopping Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitor Therapy in Patients With Established Rheumatoid Arthritis in Remission or With Stable Low Disease Activity: A Pragmatic Multicenter, Open-Label Randomized Controlled Trial

Ghiti Moghadam M, Vonkeman HE, Ten Klooster PM, et al; Dutch National POET Collaboration
Arthritis Rheumatol. 2016;68:1810-1817

Study Summary

In this study, Ghiti Moghadam and colleagues from The Netherlands used a pragmatic trial design to investigate rates of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flare after cessation of anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy. They analyzed 817 patients, all of whom had a Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) < 3.2 for 6 months before inclusion.

Individuals with RA were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to stop or continue anti-TNF therapy (531 and 286 patients, respectively). The primary outcome was flare of disease, as determined by a DAS28 ≥ 3.2 over 12 months of follow-up or an increase in score ≥ 0.6.

At 12 months, the anti-TNF discontinuation group had more flares (approximately 51% vs 18%; P < .001) and a higher mean DAS28 (P < .001). Of the 195 patients who restarted anti-TNF therapy, around 85% regained a DAS28 < 3.2 after 6 months.

Besides stopping anti-TNF therapy, predictors of time to a flare were a higher baseline DAS28 and disease duration > 10 years at the time of study entry. In terms of safety, there was one death due to an infection in the continuation group, and 34 hospitalizations in the discontinuation group compared with seven in the continuation group (P = .012).


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